The lands of Central Asia are united by a common history and historical identity as well as by common traditions. A heritage of tribal mountain and steppe confederations and oasis emirates gave way in the Soviet period to the creation of artificial nation-states” in the heart of Asia. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, these nationsKazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tojikiston, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistonwere thrust back into the international community as separate countries. Independence came as had bondage to Soviet power seven decades earlierit was imposed from without. These new states are now struggling with the cultural, economic, and political transformations of decolonization and independence.Exploring the forces of change in the new Central Asian states, Gregory Gleason analyzes their culture, their economic evolution, and their political institutions. He carefully traces the incorporation of Central Asia into the Soviet system, the region's path of development under socialism, and the vicissitudes of the economic and political collapse of socialism, before considering the trajectories of the new states as they chart their independent futures.