From the Ohio University Press, June 2019
In the sequel to Postcards from Stanland, I traverse the Indian Ocean—from Madagascar through India and Bangladesh to Indonesia.
It’s an unpredictable journey on battered buses, bush taxis, auto-rickshaws and crowded ferries. From the traffic snarls of Delhi, Dhaka and Jakarta to the rice paddies and ancestral tombs of Madagascar’s Central Highlands. From the ancient kingdom of Hyderabad to India’s so-called chicken neck—the ethnically diverse and under-developed northeast. From the textile factories and rivers of Bangladesh to the beaches of Bali and the province of Aceh—ground zero for the 2004 tsunami.
Along the way, in markets, shops, roadside cafes and classrooms, I meet journalists, professors, students, aid workers, cab drivers, and slum-dwellers to learn how they view their past and future.
Monsoon Postcards offers offbeat, witty and insightful glimpses into four countries linked by history, trade, migration, religion and a colonial legacy. It explores how they confront climate change, urban growth, conflicts over land, water and natural resources, and national and ethnic identity.
Across the vast steppe and mountain ranges, to fabled Silk Road cities, the Soviet rust belt and the futuristic architecture of Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, my offbeat memoir takes you to a remote, diverse and strategically vital region--the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. That jumble of countries whose names end in -stan: Stanland.
You'll meet teachers, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, cab-drivers and market sellers to learn about their history, culture and struggle to survive in the post-Soviet era. You'll enjoy the stories and landscapes, but be happy you skipped the dangerous flights and bad hotels.
Read more travel essays from Central Asia.
Reviews of Postcards from Stanland
“The ideal author to demystify the region and its people.” Library Journal.
“A genial travel guide … an academic who doesn’t write like an academic." Kirkus Reviews.
"Postcards from Stanland is strongest when it discusses the subtleties of national and ethnic identity, the lingering and often still strong political, cultural and personal relationship with Russia, and the way the past affects the present." The Asian Review of Books.
"With its rich depiction of life in Central Asia and authoritative yet accessible style, Postcards deserves a wide audience, from high school students to secretaries of state." Eurasianet.
"Part memoir, part tour guide, part commentary, it is a casual, hybrid book ... Its stylistic flexibility is a strength, allowing Mould to provide snapshots of ordinary life and bite-sized accounts of unusual encounters. His excitement and thrill in discovering a land about which so little is known, where geographical, cultural and even religious worlds collide, is evident." New Eastern Europe.
Pioneer war photographer Donald Thompson arrived in Petrograd on the eve of the February Revolution of 1917. Since the outbreak of World War I, Thompson had worked on every front in Europe, shooting motion-picture footage and stills for US and British newspapers and magazines, carefully fashioning his reputation as a free spirit who defied danger, death, the elements, and the censors to get the picture. On assignment for Paramount and Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, and accompanied by correspondent Florence Harper, he traveled by steamer to China and across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Over the next six months, as the country plunged into political and social chaos, he photographed demonstrations and street-fighting, was caught in crossfire between protesters and troops, and was arrested and thrown in jail. He traveled to Moscow and the Russian front lines. He met and photographed Tsar Nicolas II, political and military leaders, and prominent foreign visitors. He witnessed the power struggle between the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet, and the breakdown of discipline in the army. Donald Thompson in Russia is a compilation of letters to his wife Dorothy in Topeka, Kansas, illustrated with photos. First published in 1918, it outlines Thompson’s conspiracy thesis that “German intrigue, working among the unthinking masses, has brought Russia to her present woeful condition.” I have added an introduction and extensive notes to the republished edition (Bloomington, IN: Slavica Publishers, 2018).