Tajikistan: such a captivating place. Why is no one writing about it? We need good books by journalists, travel writers and poets about the civil war in Tajikistan, about the people of the Pamirs, about a guy who bought a yak, rode it into Dushanbe, and met the president.
None of these books have been written yet. Here is what I found instead.
Good travelogues and historical accounts of Central Asia that include Tajikistan to a certain extent can be found in the Central Asia books section.
Best books on Tajikistan
Hauntingly beautiful coffee table book on the Pamir, by renowned photographer Matthieu Paley. It’s really about Kyrgyz nomads in the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan, but since there are so many good books on Afghanistan and so few on Tajikistan, this one landed here.
I have reviewed this book in the travel guides section, but I have listed it here as well since, outside of the practical advice, the book is also unrivalled in its detail on the culture and history of Tajikistan. Filled with numerous asides and excerpts from ancient travelogues, this is still one of the best books to get for an in-depth view at Tajikistan, yesterday and today.
The best book on the history of Tajikistan proper by an extraordinary man with a profound knowledge of Central Asia. You can find a full review here.
This one is a free e-book, so no harm in trying it out. It rivals Paul Bergne’s effort in its effort of delivering a wide view of Tajikistan’s history from past to present. Like other academic books, it is not an easy read.
Fascinating portrait of cultural life in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan just after the collapse of the Soviet Union by an erudite and talented ethnomusicologist.
Awarded with the Anti-Booker Prize in 1998, Hurramabad describes the bloody national strife and the eviction of Russians from Tajikistan following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
From an Amazon review: The series of essays contained within “Tajikistan: The Trials of Independence” provide an in-depth picture of the pains this country has encountered in its short independent life. It provides a detailed ethnographic study that underscores the deep divisions within the population; it chronicles the struggle to combat rebel opposition from within and drug traffickers from without; it also shows how foreign aid (and, primarily, Russian military protection) has prevented total collapse.
There is not much out there in terms of good journalism on Tajikistan, so this book might be recommended. It’s not bad, but not so well written in my opinion. It mostly stands out because of the lack of competition.
A UN observer heads to Tajikistan to investigate the murder of 4 UN employees and finds more than he bargained for. Is this worth your time? A good review can be found at Registan.
The classic account of Lord Curzon’s expedition to the source of the river Oxus. 2 other important explorers followed in his footsteps, and all 3 are worth reading.
Another British gentleman traveler who traveled in the 19th century to Tajikistan to find the source of the river Oxus.
The third important British explorer who traveled in the 19th century to Tajikistan to find the source of the river Oxus.
From Goodreads: this book is quite obscure, but if you can get it it’s worth reading. The stories are short, typically three to five pages each, and would interest adults and children equally. There are some illustrations, not too many.
I quite liked these tales, more so than Western fairy tales. Women in Western fairy tales tend to be passive and helpless, but many of the women in these Tajik stories were strong, smart and independent. In fact, several of the stories were about them getting it over on men.
Jonson focuses on Tajikistan’s foreign policy after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and attempts to answer three questions: What has changed in Tajikistan’s foreign policy after the 9/11 terrorist attacks? Why has Tajikistan felt the need to make these political changes? And what are the possible consequences of these policy changes?
Academic book on the peacebuilding process after the civil war.