Beyond the Amu Darya lies the “crucible of mankind”, inhabited by the Turkmen, the Uzbek, the Kazakh, the Tajik and the Khirghiz, the region of Central Asia known to nineteenth century European travelogues as Transoxiana, beyond the Oxus. This is the place on earth that gave birth to the legendary forces that would build an empire in India and knock on the gates of Christendom as far as Vienna. The region's rugged geography and harsh rulers prevented many from venturing in. Jaswant Singh, travelling without diplomatic privilege or the trappings of officialdom, pays tribute to this land of legends and antiquity, the land, he says, that “altered the course of our history”.Travels in Transoxiana: In Lands Over the Hindu-Kush and Across the Amu Darya deftly etches a picture of places whose ancient glory and present search for identity sit uncomfortably together. A powerfully detailed historical account that spans centuries from the era of Chengez to present times, a narration of kinship, empathy and loss, it captures the soul of one of the world's most fascinating regions.