AboutFew people know Central Asia better than Dilip Hiro. In his detailed and nuanced overview of the political and cultural history of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in Inside Central Asia, Afghanistan appears as a leitmotif. He explains the ethnic tensions, religious intolerance and struggle for political identity in the region caught between two behemoths the splintered Soviet empire and the rising Chinese superpower. In describing the emergence of post-Soviet authoritarian governance, Hiro examines in detail the nationalist and Islamist pressures on Central Asian leaders. He highlights militant nationalism and political Islam as two significant pan regional forces, which hold the key to understanding political and cultural developments in Eurasia.