In 1997, journalist Rall, on a lark, decided to take a drive through the newly independent Central Asian republics, and discovered anarchic societies ruled by dictators and plagued by poverty, looting and corruption while Islamic radicals waited for the opportunity to take over. But did anybody care? Rall's magazine account of his misadventures was soon followed by a feature he launched on his Los Angeles radio talk show, "Stan Watch: Breaking News from Central Asia," intended as a send-up of Americans' disinterest in foreign affairs. But the joke turned serious. His obscure news stories became wildly popular. Americans, it turned out, were interested in the outside world. Soon, no one cared more about Central Asia than Rall. Transformed by what he saw and eager to sound the alarm, he became an expert and returned several times, as a rogue independent and as a guest of the State Department, to this cultural and political collision zone.--From publisher description.