Unknown Sands: Journeys Around the World's Most Isolated Country

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Dusty Spark Pub., 2006 - Travel - 209 pages
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Turkmenistan was once the world's most feared territory. Since the time of the Mongols, the nomadic tribes of its vast desert wastes were deemed ungovernable. Russians and Persians were captured as slaves and carried off by the fierce Turkmen. Even now, as an independent country located between the hot spots of Afghanistan and Iran, with one of the planet's largest natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan remains virtually unknown to the outside world. Unknown Sands penetrates this remote and harsh land. This is a personal story that blends two years of adventure with Turkmenistans tumultuous history to present an intriguing profile of the country and its people. This former Soviet territory offers a target-rich environment for the unusual including a surreal cult of Presidential personality, ancient ruins of the Silk Road, and a unique, mystical brand of Islam.

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Death or Slavery
Welcome to a Closed Land
Red Carpets in the Bazaar

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About the author (2006)

John Kropf served at the American Embassy in Turkmenistan as the Country Director for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Because of his work with the Embassy, he was able to travel extensively through Turkmenistan. He is currently the Director of International Privacy Programs at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In addition to writing for the U.S. Department of State as an attorney specializing in international law, his writing credits include creative non-fiction and humor articles that have appeared in The Washington Post and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He also contributed a story to Sports Car Illustrated (now defunct) that detailed his grandfather's 1919 cross-country trek in a FIAT roadster ("Tales of the Mudbound").

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