– A Journey to Samarkand –
“Every journey through central Asia is a qust for Samarkand,” writes Geoffrey Moorhouse, and his own was no exception.
Moorhouse started near the roof of the world, on the Soviet Union’s border with China, and he finished under the turquoise dome of Gur Emir, beside the tomb of Tamburlaine. For two months he tacked from the mountains across the steppe and on to the desert of what used to be Russian Turkestan, savouring its past and watching history being made. He contemplated conquest in the devastation Genghiz Khan left behind at Merv and he witnessed the Red Army retreating from Afghanistan. Everywhere he went he felt the stirrings of perestoika and the tension it has produced between Russian colonisers and Muslims in the south of the Soviet Union.
Moorhouse was travelling not only his own golden road to Samarkand, bus also in the footsteps of the Mughals, whose heartland this was before they conquered India. It is a journey of contrasts, in which he contemplates the music of the Russian Orthodox and the significance of Boris Godunov as well as the deification of Lenin, the epic architecture of Islam and much, much, more.”