The Silent Steppe: The Memoir of a Kazakh Nomad Under Stalin
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The Silent Steppe: The Memoir of a Kazakh Nomad Under Stalin


This is a first-hand account of the genocide of the Kazakh nomads in the 1920s and 30s. Nominally Muslim, the Kazakhs and their culture owed as much to shamanism and paganism as they did to Islam. Their ancient traditions and economy depended on the breeding and herding of stock across the vast steppes of central Asia, and their independent, nomadic way of life was anathema to the Soviets.

Seven-year-old Shayakhmetov and his mother and sisters were left to fend for themselves after his father was branded a "kulak" (well-off peasant and thus class enemy), stripped of his possessions, and sent to a prison camp where he died. In the following years the family traveled thousands of miles across Kazakhstan by foot, surviving on the charity of relatives. Told with dignity and detachment, this central Asian Wild Swans awakens the reader to the scale of suffering of millions of Kazakhs, and also astonishes and inspires as a most singular survivor's tale.

Title:The Silent Steppe: The Memoir of a Kazakh Nomad Under Stalin
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:345 pages

    The Silent Steppe: The Memoir of a Kazakh Nomad Under Stalin Reviews

  • Dinara Tengri
    Jan 09, 2015

    If you've followed my blog for a while, you may know that I am originally from Kazakhstan. And the older I get the more I get interested in the history of my people. And when it comes to history, I th...

  • Richard Newton
    Apr 29, 2013

    This is no literary masterpiece, so my rating reflects the contents rather than purely being about the style of the writing. This is a profoundly moving, personal account of the tragedy of the Kazakh ...

  • Perry Teicher
    Apr 07, 2010

    The author lays out a personal perspective on early Soviet times through WW2 in Kazakhstan. He doesn't present "big ideas" or theories exploring why Kazakhs responded in the manner they did to collect...

  • Sally
    Aug 07, 2015

    "The pattern of our year was dictated by the needs of our herds and flocks", 7 August 2015This review is from: Silent Steppe (Hardcover)Until reading this work, I had never thought of how Stalin's po...

  • Sue Lyle
    Aug 04, 2014

    This is a biography of a man who lived through the collectivisation of the land of kazak nomads under Stalin. 1.75 million, almost half the population died of starvation or imprisonment in 1932-3 alon...

  • Val
    Aug 19, 2012

    The book is let down a little by the very dry factual style in which it is written. It is informative about an area of the world and a way of life which has been little documented.There are areas of t...

  • Shannon Swan
    Jul 31, 2010

    This is a first-hand account of the genocide of the Kazakhs during the collectivization terror enforced by Stalin in the 1930s, which resulted in wide spread famine and the death of one quarter of thi...

  • Meaghan
    Sep 11, 2011

    There aren't very many books in English that come out of Central Asia, particularly from this period. Mukhamet Shayakhmetov is one of the very few people still alive who are old enough to remember Sta...

  • Anna
    Sep 19, 2011

    Very readable account of the forgotten story of the nomadic Kazakhs under Stalin's regime. Written by one of the Kazakhs who lived it, includes interesting looks into what traditions the nomads had an...

  • Chris Bartholomew
    Sep 23, 2013

    A vignette of life in a Russian aul during the change over from a livestock society to the new Communist collective. The book covers just a brief period of time as the combination of Communism, drough...

About Mukhamet Shayakhmetov

Mukhamet Shayakhmetov

Mukhamet Shayakhmetov was born in Kamyshinka village, East Kazakhstan Region. He was drafted by enlistment office of administrative center of Kurshim District in 125th reserve regiment of Semipalatinsk city. Since June 27th, 1942 he served as a scout in 656th regiment of 116th Eastern Front infantry division, took part in Smolensk and Stalingrad battles. Returned home after the war and worked as a