Lawrence Scott Sheets

 

Lawrence Scott Sheets, who reported for Reuters and National Public Radio on the collapse of the Soviet Union, is the Caucasus project director of the International Crisis Group. This article is excerpted from his new book, Eight Pieces of Empire: A 20-Year Journey Through the Soviet Collapse (Crown, © 2011).

 

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The Glorious Invasion

Three weeks after September 11, 2001, the day I arrived in Moscow to begin as National Public Radio’s bureau chief, my editors gave me four hours to pack before I was dispatched on an overnight flight to the never-never land of Uzbekistan. It was a temporary stopping--off point before I went on to neighboring Afghanistan. I had never been to Uzbekistan and knew only that the place was renowned as a hotbed of terrified, stonewalling bureaucrats.