Central Asia Books

Central Asia
Posted on: 10 January 2022

Best Central Asia Books

Our book recommendation on Central Asia is for beginners who have no idea about this region and for travelers who are planning to travel to Central Asia. This list is also good for people who went to explore this region and were surprised by the variety of cultures, traditions and complex history that was hard to grasp. Central Asia today is a region including 5 post-Soviet states: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.  Before the Soviet Union, the region stretching from Western China to the Caspian Sea has been witnessing the fall and rise of different empires and kingdoms throughout centuries. Thus, to understand Central Asia today, it is important to know its historical and cultural development, during and after the decline of the Silk Road trade, as well as during and after the Soviet Union. Here we give you a choice of books on the history of Central Asia and of the Silk Road, political history, travel guides, and travelogues, as well as some books about the cuisine, culture, music and literature of Central Asia.Central Asia best books

Travel Guide Books on Central Asia

Central Asia Lonely Planet Travel Guide starting from June 1, 2018, has a new 7th edition with freshly updated information. This guidebook covers all five Central Asian countries and still a lightweight book consisting of around 500 pages.

Bradt Travel Guide has separate books about Kyrgyzstan (2019), Tajikistan (2018), Kazakhstan (2018), Uzbekistan (2016), & Turkmenistan (2006). It has more information on each country and is good for travelers visiting Central Asian countries one by one.

Odyssey Illustrated Guides – separate books Kazakhstan (2018), Uzbekistan (2014), Tajikistan (2011), Kyrgyzstan (2008)

Horizon Guides – Exploring The Silk Road: Highlights and key routes

Central Asia travel guide books

Central Asian History Books

Central Asia in World History (New Oxford World History) – Peter B. Golden, 2011, 192p

Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane – S. Frederick Starr, 2015, 680p

Palgrave Concise Historical Atlas of Central Asia – Rafiz Abazov, 2008, 142 p.

History of Civilizations of Central Asia; UNESCO edition – 6 volumes on Central Asian history- all volumes can be downloaded for free

The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia –  Professor René Grousset, 1970, 718p

The Turks in World History – Carter Vaughn Findley 2004, 320p

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia – Peter Hopkirk, 1992, 564pCentral Asia history books

Books about the Silk Road

The Silk Road in World History (New Oxford World History) – Xinru Liu, 2010, 168 p

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World – Peter Frankopan, 2017, 672p

Religions of the Silk Road: Premodern Patterns of Globalization – R. Foltz, 2010, 190p

Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present -Christopher I. Beckwith, 2011, 512pSilk Road travel books

Political history

The New Central Asia: Geopolitics and the Birth of Nations, Olivier Roy 2007, 248p

A History of the Soviet Union from the Beginning to the EndPeter Kenez, 2006, 354p

Inside Central Asia: A Political and Cultural History of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Iran – Dilip Hiro, 2011, 464p


Central Asia political history books


Turkestan Solo: A Journey Through Central Asia – Ella K. Maillart, 1930s, 372p

The Lost Heart of Asia  – Colin Thubron, 1994, 400p

Apples Are from Kazakhstan: The Land that Disappeared –  Christopher Robbins, 2010, 304p

A Carpet Ride to Khiva: Seven Years on the Silk Road, Christopher Aslan Alexander, 2010,
336pCentral Asia Travel book recomendations

Diverse Central Asia Books

Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & The Caucasus– Caroline Eden, 2016, 224p

Jamilia  – Chingiz Aitmatov, 1958, 96p – Novel by famous Kyrgyz writer, whose books were translated in over hundred languages

The Day Lasts More than a Hundred Years – Chingiz Aitmatov

Kyrgyzstan: traditions of Nomads– 2005, Kadyrov (Author), Ian Claytor, 56p

Kyrgyzstan– Claudia Antipina (Author), Temirbek Musakeev (Author), Rolando Paiva (Photographer), 2007

The Music of Central Asia – Theodore Levin, Saida Daukeyeva, 2016, 703p

Central Asia Books blog

You can download our Central Asia Books checklist, as a pdf. Let us know what is your favorite book on Central Asia and what would you add to this short list? If you would like to experience Central Asia first hand check out our tours.

Next story
Back to blog