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Dateline Mongolia by Michael Kohn
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Dateline Mongolia

by Michael Kohn

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Mid 20's traveler lands job as Editor of English language newspaper in Mongolia in late 1990s and learns to write. Great travel memoir / history retrospective / current affairs book results. I was skeptical at first, but this book really nails what it is like to live in a little-known country emerging from another political system. Enjoyed the wanderings thru the remote wind swept steppes. ( )
  BookWallah | May 18, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Dateline Mongolia is a tale of a Westerner in a strange land, confiming some preconceptions, overturning others. Since it was written several years after the author's less than four year stay in Mongolia (1997-2000) the information is not current. But the descriptions of the people and the countryside are interesting . I am reminded of a poster I once read recruiting English teachers for service in Mongolia. The poster warned that applicants who needed big city night-life or cultural opportunities, or who were vegetarians, should probably not apply. Enjoyable.
  ritaer | May 18, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Mongolia seems as far away, geographically and culturally, from Northern England as it could possibly be, hence I have a certain feeling towards it of exoticism and mystery. Kohn's book is an antidote to that feeling.

Arriving in the capital of Ulaanbataar to take a position in the underfunded English-language state newspaper, he describes a crumbling post-Soviet city of grey concrete apartment blocks, urban decay and corruption in the newly democratic, fledgling capitalist economy. His co-workers aren't particularly interested in journalism, just with filling space with livestock reports and industrial production statistics. Kohn's determination to shake things up and put out real stories is successful, to a degree, but not without consequences, both for him and his colleagues as he inadvertently ruffles political feathers.

I found several parts of the book a push to get through as it felt there were overlong chunks describing rather mundane aspects of Kohn's work or travel arrangements, but there was enough of interest to encourage me to make that push.

The Mongolia that Kohn presents is one of a people struggling to emerge from the shadows of its superpower neighbours; fiercely proud of its own history as a former continent-spanning empire; torn between its nomadic traditions and the needs of a modern, settled, urban economy; missing the security of authoritarian rule, relishing the freedoms of democracy whilst abhorring the perceived increase in corruption, politically, culturally and morally, that for seem seem to be the dark price to be paid for those freedoms.

Despite the hardships and difficulties he describes, Kohn obviously enjoyed his time in Mongolia, and he communicates a real affection and respect for the country and its people. ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | May 9, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was lucky to get a copy of this book through the monthly 'Early Reviewer'. Thanks librarything and thanks Blacksmith Books.

You can't help but admire the young author Michael Kohn. A recent graduate in search of travel and experience takes up the job of editor of an English language newspaper in Mongolia in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. He enters a different culture not just geographically but in just about every other dimension. Religious, political, economic, linguistic. And he does so with enthusiasm and dedication. Conscientious in his work and eager to seize opportunities to see as much of the country as he can even though travel is difficut and uncomfortable. Perennial inquisitiveness and optimism serve him well. And along the way we learn a lot about a country that rarely hits the news and in which few travel either on business or as tourists.

But enthusiasm can have its down side. Mr Kohn's journalistic experience has been put to good use. His book is episodic and follows much of what he wrote for his newspaper. A good editor would have helped to give the book a more solid structure rather than the timeline of his stay in Ulanbataar and it would have helped to prune some of the more gossipy, life of the young expat sections. But Mr Kohn deserves praise for writing a book that is more than a travelogue diary about a country that few outsiders get the chance to experience. ( )
  Steve38 | Apr 30, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A competently written, factual and sympathetic account of life in Mongolia, by an American journalist who worked as editor on a newspaper, The Mongol Messenger, in Ulaanbaatar at the end of the 1990s. He explores the political, economical, geographical, historical, social and traditional background of the country and travelled widely in search of real Mongolians (as opposed to the many Chinese who live there now). The narrative is fairly flat and explicative though it is sometimes livened up by vivid visual and exciting incidents (the horse racing festival, the falcon smuggling, and so on), and he chronicles the immense social changes that came over the country since the millennium. I was glad to learn what lies behind the French crime stories I have been reading by Ian Manook (the Yeruldelgger detective series) set in modern Mongolia (they are gory, full of violence and corruption). Though I wouldn't describe it as a travel book, I'd recommend it for anyone wanting to visit and understand the country.
There are a few typos, but nothing really distracting (free reign should be free rein, by the way, and there is inconsistency between Khaan in the text and Khan in the captions) - the typeface is clear and readable, the paper good quality, and there is a section of colour photographs in the middle, but the pages are uneven (by which I mean they don't all end at the same level at the bottom of the page). I don't suppose this will irk anyone except myself, though. A map would have been useful. Thanks to Blacksmith Books for sending me this Early Reviewers copy.

Note: I am unable to edit the ISBN which should be 978-988-13765-8-9. ( )
  overthemoon | Apr 11, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Kohnprimary authorall editionscalculated
Harris, RichardDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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June 17, 1997

Dear Michael,

Thanks for your interest in The Mongol Messenger.
In the spring of 2003 a chic London restaurant offered free lunch to any customer who tested positive for Chingis (Ghengis) Khan chromosomes following a DNA mouth-swab test. (Prologue)
Roy Chapman Andrews' words resonated loudly in my head as my train approached the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar.
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Inside Outer Mongolia

Michael Kohn, editor of the Mongol Messenger, is one steppe ahead of the journalistic posee in this epic Western set in the Far East. Kohn's book is an irresistable account of a nation where falcon poachers, cattle rustlers, exile Buddhist leaders, death-defying child jockeys and political assassins vie for page one. The turf war between lamas, shamans, Mongol elders and ministers provides the spiritual backdrop in this nation recently liberated from Societ orthodoxy. From the reincarnated Bogd Khaan and his press spokesman to vodka-fueled racing entrepeneurs and politicla leaders unclear on the concept of freedom of the press, Kohn explores one of Asia's most fascinating, mysterious and misunderstood lands. [from the cover]
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