The Newly Independent States of Eurasia: Handbook of Former Soviet Republics, by Stephen K. Batalden
One cannot really call this book “up-to-date,” since its statistics are all from the 90’s (or the late 1980’s), but it is an interesting read for someone who wishes to find out a little bit more about the issues faced by the nations that broke off of the Soviet Union (other than the three Baltic republics, which are *not* covered in this book). The book includes an out-of-date statistical profile on nations ranging from Moldova to Tajikistan and the Russian Federation, and is divided into four sections. The first section, about the Russian Federation, includes a chapter about European Russia and about Siberia & the Fear East. The second section is about the European republics of Belarus, Moldova, and the Ukraine. The third section is about the Transcaucasian republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, while the final section discusses the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kygyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The book especially succeeds when it talks about ecological disasters, the continuing problems of the ‘cult of personality’ in the post-soviet successor states (something I deeply loathe in its many protean forms), and the ethnic rivalries that continue to bedevil the new nations of the former Soviet Union. For those who share an interest, as I do, in the history, geography, and political affairs of the world, this book is a quick and handy set of cliffs notes, even if its it isn’t as up-to-date as it could be.