Former British politician presents President Nazarbayev’s biography
July 23. KAZINFORM. WASHINGTON
Former British Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister Jonathan Aitken has recently presented his new book – a biography of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Jonathan Aitken is the author of twelve previous books including his award winning biographies of Richard Nixon and John Newton. He is also well known as an academic lecturer, public speaker and as a writer for many magazines and newspapers. He is a regular columnist for The American Spectator.
The roller-coaster ride of Nursultan Nazarbayev from nomad to national leader of one of the world’s largest, richest and most strategically important countries makes riveting reading in this fast paced biography by Jonathan Aitken.
Born in a shepherd’s yurt on the great steppes of Central Asia, Nazarbayev’s first job was as a blast furnace worker in a Soviet steel mill. His early career as a young Communist Party official ran through the eras of Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev. It was Mikhail Gorbachev who saw Nazarbayev as a kindred spirit in the reforms of perestroika and glasnost, bringing him into the Politburo and eventually offering to appoint him Prime Minister of the Soviet Union.
Nazarbayev turned the offer down, forcing the end of the Communist era. Thanks to interviews with many of the key players of that time, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Jonathan Aitken gives a new and detailed account of the key role played by Nazarbayev in foiling the Moscow coup of August 1991 in collaboration with Boris Yeltsin, and of the break up of the Soviet Union five months later.
As President of the new independent nation state of Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev had to wrestle with extraordinary crises. On the strategic front his greatest challenge was that he had inherited ownership of the world’s fourth largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. Rogue states were after them and in Aitken’s account Nazarbayev had to exercise secret moves, which included his involvement with the CIA’s top secret Operation Sapphire, to ship the warheads and weapons-grade uranium out of his country to safety.
Second only to these nuclear dramas were the succession of economic crises that confronted Nazarbayev. Encouraged by Margaret Thatcher, he led Kazakhstan from Communism towards privatisation and free markets. In these turbulent years the discovery of huge oil and gas riches in the Caspian gave a massive boost to the economy. Aitken’s account of the twists and turns of Nazarbayev’s transformation of Kazakhstan into the most commercially successful nation to emerge from the collapse of the Soviet republics makes an enthralling narrative.
Aitken’s biography is a portrait of both a man and a country. It chronicles Nazarbayev’s mistakes, not least within his own family, as well as his successes. It is a story that has never before been told in the West. As a political, personal and historical page turner Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan recounts one of the most colourful and influential odysseys of modern times, News Bullettin No24 of the Kazakhstan Embassy in the USA reads.