Sacred Horses:: Memoirs of a Turkmen Cowboy

Johnathan Maslow, Author, Jonathan E. Maslow, Author Random House (NY) $25 (342p) ISBN 978-0-679-40875-8
The genteel title doesn't do justice to this entertaining and enchanting account of Maslow's quest to visit isolated Soviet Turkmenistan and to ride its noble breed of horses. In 1988, filled with wanderlust and possessed with this idea, the New Jersey author and naturalist ( Bird of Life , Bird of Death ) studied Russian and riding, and three years later hooked up with a Sister City delegation from Albuquerque. His misadventures in Turkmenistan include meetings with the Turkmen Friendship Society (aka KGB), bouts of hospitality ending in Soviet/Moslem melancholy, and some unexpected bonding over the Beatles. After Maslow sees the lustrous Akhal-Teke racehorses, ``a work of art that can trot and canter,'' bribery and finagling get him to the countryside, and a return trip, ostensibly to help a horse marketer, leads to fulfillment of his dream--a ride ``flying forward like a magic carpet.'' Maslow's narrative intersperses both local and horse history with warmth and sensitivity for an unusual place still politically constrained and off-limits to most travelers. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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