Have the Mountains Fallen?

Have the Mountains Fallen?

Two Journeys of Loss and Redemption in the Cold War
Jeffrey Lilley
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/23/2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03244-7
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After surviving the blitzkrieg of World War II and escaping from three Nazi prison camps, Soviet soldier Azamat Altay fled to the West and was charged as a traitor in his homeland of Kyrgyzstan in Soviet Central Asia. Chingiz Aitmatov became a hero of Kyrgyzstan, propelled by family loss to write novels about the everyday lives of his fellow citizens. While both came from small villages in the beautiful mountainous countryside, they found themselves caught on opposite sides of the Cold War struggle between world superpowers. Altay became the voice of democracy on Radio Liberty, broadcasting back into his shuttered homeland, while Aitmatov rose through the ranks of Soviet society, a quiet rebel whose prose masked ugly truths about Soviet communism. Yet just as they seemed to be pulled apart by the divisions of the Cold War, they found their lives intersecting in compelling ways, joined by a common mission to save their people. Have the Mountains Fallen? traces the lives of these two men as they confronted the full threat and legacy of the Soviet empire. Through narratives of loss, love, and longing for a homeland forever changed, a clearer picture emerges of the struggle for freedom inside the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Author Bio

After witnessing the collapse of the Soviet Union as a journalist in the 1990s, Jeffrey B. Lilley moved to Central Asia in 2004. During a three-year posting in Kyrgyzstan, he read the works of Chinghiz Aitmatov, slept in yurts, drank fermented mare’s milk, and hiked in the country’s beautiful mountains. Over the next ten years, he worked in the field of democracy and governance support in Washington, DC, and the Middle East, returning to Kyrgyzstan in 2016 to lead a British-funded parliamentary support program. Lilley is author (with James R. Lilley) of China Hands: Nine Decades of Adventure, Espionage and Diplomacy.


“Jeffrey B. Lilley brilliantly describes how individual freedom and independence have come to the citizens of Kyrgyzstan through the inspiring efforts of author Chingiz Aitmatov and broadcaster Azamat Altay. Have the Mountains Fallen? is a Cold War story that gives hope.”
 — Richard G. Lugar, United States Senator (Ret.)

“It is impossible to understand today's Central Asia without knowing Kyrgyzstan, and impossible to understand Kyrgyzstan without reading this book. This is an insightful story of the terrible challenges that faced two courageous men and their dedication to preserving their nation, even 'when the mountains fall.' It is a thought-provoking book about the long journey of the Kyrgyz people to independence.”
 — Roza Otunbayeva, President of the Kyrgyz Republic (2010–2011)

Have the Mountains Fallen? is historyat its best, with the qualities of a novel—narrative, color, pace.”
 — Donald Lamm, former president and chairman of W. W. Norton Publishing Company

“The stories of Chingiz Aitmatov and Azamat Altay are best told together, a herculean task which Jeffrey B. Lilley’s Have The Mountain’s Fallen? Two Journeys of Loss and Redemption in the Cold War manages deftly. . . . Their story—because it is, in essence, a single story—is that of Kyrgyzstan itself, replete with tragedy and sacrifice, hope and triumph.”
 — The Diplomat

“The book is the perfect combination of exhaustive research, beautiful writing, page-turning action, inspirational heroes and verbal pictures of a little known land, people and culture. With fast-paced storytelling we experience life in the Soviet Union from Stalin’s Great Purges when thousands of innocent people were executed, all the way up to its collapse in 1991. We experience the torture and misery of World War II, through both men’s completely different first hand experiences, the acute longing for one’s homeland when one can’t return, and the outwitting of the Soviet censors by a brilliant Kyrgyz author who exposes the cruelty and soulessness of the ideal "Soviet Man" in his books. And we are deeply inspired by their efforts—one inside the Soviet Union, and one outside it—to preserve the history and culture of Kyrgyzstan, and the soul of its people.”
 — KPC News

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Table of Contents

Note on Transliteration and Translation
List of Names

Part I
1. Flight
2. Seeds of Rebellion
3. Have the Mountains Fallen?
4. The Burdens of War

Part II
5. Chinese with a Dog
6. Recovering Dignity
7. The Sting of Rejection
8. Balancing Acts

Part III
9. American Rendezvous
10. Standing up to Injustice
11. Waves of Change
12. An Expiring Ideology

Part IV
13. The Wheels of Truth
14. New Beginnings
15. Times of Tumult
16. Holy Ground