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.
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 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, 564p
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, 512p
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 End – Peter Kenez, 2006, 354p
Inside Central Asia: A Political and Cultural History of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Iran – Dilip Hiro, 2011, 464p
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,
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
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.