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With the grim determination of an unrepentant rocker, Larry Frolick sets off on a 12,000-mile trek across Central Asia, brooding over the fate of its lost civilizations. From Kiev, Crimean Tartary, and Moscow, through the nomadic homelands of Uzbekistan, Kyrgizstan, Tien-Shan, and finally into distant Mongolia and Siberia, he explores a continent on the brink of a meltdown, a strange world lit harshly by the red afterglow of the Soviet collapse.

His vivid account opens the door to a crowd of unlikely strangers: Mafiosi flatheads, salt-mine campers, fractious archaeologists, a conceptual artist who uses fresh corpses in his window displays, the very last of three Romanov princesses, an inept Chinese secret agent, a relentless Uzbek glottal probologist, disgruntled e-mail swains – and above all, Larissa, the moody Eurasian beauty who “just stepped out of a novel in her impossibly pointy Italian shoes.” With gleeful wit and a steely eye for detail, Frolick transports the reader to a world inhabited by a people burning with desire for something new to happen.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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