What We Are Reading Today: The Central Asian Economies Since Independence

Updated 04 December 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: The Central Asian Economies Since Independence

  • Richard Pomfret provides a concise and up-to-date analysis of the huge changes undergone by the economies of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991

Author: Richard Pomfret

The 9/11 attacks, the US invasion of Afghanistan, and the oil boom of recent years have greatly increased the strategic importance of resource-rich Central Asia, making an understanding of its economic — and therefore political — prospects more important than ever. 

In The Central Asian Economies Since Independence, Richard Pomfret provides a concise and up-to-date analysis of the huge changes undergone by the economies of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The book assesses the economic prospects of each country, and the likelihood that economic conditions will spur major political changes. With independent chapters on each country, and chapters analyzing their comparative economic performance, the book highlights similarities and differences as well as  divergent paths in the transition from Soviet central planning to more market-based economies.

The book ends in 2005 with the bloodless Kyrgyz revolution and the violence in Uzbekistan, which signaled the end of the region’s political continuity. Throughout the book, Pomfret emphasizes the economic forces that foster political instability — from Kazakhstan’s resource boom and Turkmenistan’s lack of reform to Tajikistan’s abject poverty.


What We Are Reading Today: The Alzheimer Conundrum

Updated 20 February 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The Alzheimer Conundrum

Author: Margaret Lock

Due to rapidly aging populations, the number of people worldwide experiencing dementia is increasing, and the projections are grim. Despite billions of dollars invested in medical research, no effective treatment has been discovered for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
The Alzheimer Conundrum exposes the predicaments embedded in current efforts to slow down or halt Alzheimer’s disease through early detection of pre-symptomatic biological changes in healthy individuals.
Based on a meticulous account of the history of Alzheimer’s disease and extensive in-depth interviews, Margaret Lock highlights the limitations and the dissent associated with biomarker detection. Lock argues that basic research must continue, but should be complemented by a public health approach to prevention that is economically feasible, more humane, and much more effective globally than one exclusively focused on an increasingly harried search for a cure.
Lock is the Marjorie Bronfman Professor Emerita in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and the Department of Anthropology at McGill University.