Each of these volumes presents a cogent overview of its respective country. Excellent-quality photos and reproductions appear throughout. What distinguishes these titles from similar country books is the detailed examination of the many ways Islam has influenced the culture and politics. Throughout the chapters on history, people, economy, and foreign relations, the importance of the religion is emphasized in every aspect of life. Valliant presents a good discussion of the significance of Islam in the establishment of Bangladesh as an independent nation. In Afghanistan, Whitehead includes an informative section about the Taliban and how it came to power. The material in both volumes is quite current (as of mid-2004), making these good choices for updating nonfiction collections.
--School Library Journal on Afghanistan and Bangladesh
These titles look at the importance of Islam in this region. The emphasis that they place on geopolitics, both in the countries' historical development and in their current significance, gives them a cohesive focus and an interest level not usually found in country studies. Although there are individual chapters on the land, history, economy, people, cities, and foreign relations, the growth and influence of Islam are integrated throughout the texts. The writing is lucid and lively; the photographs, relevant and representative of a variety of lifestyles. Kazakhstan is the most impressive, but the others are equally informative. The author of Kyrgyzstan could not have predicted the overthrow of Akayev in spring 2005, but he does alert readers to why the president was losing support. . . . These books are solid sources for reports, geography lessons, and current events. --School Library Journal on Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Azerbaijan.