From the fabled Silk Road to remote mountain communities, from narcissistic autocrats to villagers struggling for survival, from culture shock to cultural immersion, from heroes of legend and myth to political dissidents, Postcards from Stanland transports readers to Central Asia—a remote, multifaceted, strategically important and intriguingly complex region of the world.
— Eric Freedman, coauthor of After the Czars and the Commissars: Journalism in Authoritarian Post-Soviet Central Asia.

“The contribution of the book is in its individual stories and the empathy that Dr. Mould has for his wide-ranging cast of characters, from coal workers in the north of Kazakhstan to grandmothers raising vegetables at a dacha.”

Martha Merrill, associate professor of higher education at Kent State University

Kazak batyrs—heroic 18th century warriors—guard a mountain resort outside Almaty

Kazak batyrs—heroic 18th century warriors—guard a mountain resort outside Almaty

I've been traveling to the region since the mid-1990s, and the book combines my personal experiences and observations with interviews and research.  There's the big picture of the region—landscape, culture, history, politics, environment, media, universities and other topics.  And the more personal one--the challenges of travel, work, shopping, eating, communicating and staying warm. 

For the five “stans”—Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan—shaking off the legacy of 75 years of Soviet rule has not been easy.  The transition to a market economy has been slow and difficult, social services and education have declined in quality, and many people, especially in rural areas and regional cities, feel worse off than in Soviet times.  Soviet-era attitudes persist in authoritarian governments, higher education and other areas of society. Since independence, each country has attempted to define its national identity, although this has sometimes meant re-inventing history. 

The best way to understand Central Asia is through its people—not only those who have lived there for generations, but those who have come there to live and work.  On my journey, I met and talked with a motley crew—teachers, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, philosophers, environmental activists, journalists, bloggers, cab-drivers, market sellers, hotel floor ladies, babushkas, expats, Peace Corps volunteers, and others.  Their perspectives on the big issues and on daily life are central to this journey.

For more information, or to place an order, go to Swallow Press.


For a preview, read my essays for Times Higher Education:

Realpolitik: A Fulbright Fellow in Astana, September 5, 2013. How did David Mould end up teaching journalism in Kazakhstan’s frozen capital? He was a political pawn, he says.

Off Piste - Unfamiliar territory, January 3, 2013. To many in the West, Central Asia is a bewildering array of indistinguishable nations. But if you take the time to get to know them, argues David Mould, the ‘stans’ are fascinating individuals.

Warming to life in the hot zone, January 12, 2012. That people should be moved out of a former nuclear test site seemed a no-brainer. But spending time with those affected led two researchers to revise their views. David Mould reports.