Restless Valley has the makings of a gripping thriller: revolutions, massacres, civil war, drug-smuggling, brazen corruption, contract hits, and larger-than-life characters who may be villains… or heroes… or possibly both. Yet Philip Shishkin’s new book is not a novel.
Shishkin, a prize-winning journalist with extensive on-the-ground experience in the tumultuous region above Afghanistan’s northern border, focuses mainly on Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Both nations have struggled with the enormous challenges of post-Soviet independent statehood; both became entangled in America’s Afghan campaign when U.S. military bases were established within their borders. At the same time, the region was developing into a key smuggling hub for Afghanistan’s booming heroin trade.
Shishkin discusses his account of Central Asia’s unfolding history from 2005 to the present in conversation with political scientist Alex Cooley.