Kazakhstan became independent as the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. Author Keith Rosten was a Fulbright Lecturer in Kazakhstan soon after the country gained independence. In Once in Kazakhstan, Rosten draws a sometimes humorous portrait of a critical period in the emergence of Kazakhstan. He interweaves the challenges and exhilaration of living in Kazakhstan with the historical backdrop of a country grappling with its independence.
From horse heads in the Central Market, to guns on the ski slopes, to the first-ever parliamentary elections, Rosten takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the country. He leads the reader on a tour of the war monuments in Almaty and the mines of Karaganda. He vividly recounts the change in currency from the Soviet ruble to the tenge. He travels with a candidate for parliament to a rural village near Semipalatinsk and journeys to the Karakhan Mausoleum in Dzhambul.
Rosten uses his knowledge of Russian living and language to give the reader access to non-English sources on the history, politics, traditions, and spirit of Kazakhstan. The book contains photographs of the people, places, and monuments of the country. Once in Kazakhstan is an invaluable resource for anyone who is traveling to Kazakhstan.