Michael Kohn, former editor of the Mongol Messenger newspaper, is one steppe ahead of the journalistic posse in this epic Western set in the Far East. Kohn’s memoir of his time in Mongolia is an irresistible account of a nation where falcon poachers, cattle rustlers, exiled Buddhist leaders, death-defying child jockeys and political assassins vie for page one. A turf war between lamas, shamans, Mormon elders and ministers provides the spiritual backdrop in this nation which had only just been liberated from Soviet rule. From the reincarnated Bogd Khaan and his press spokesman to vodka-fuelled racing entrepreneurs and political leaders unclear on the concept of freedom of the press, Kohn explores one of Asia’s most fascinating, mysterious and misunderstood lands.
“Kohn’s cheery optimism is a defining feature of his excellent Dateline Mongolia, a memoir of his three years in Mongolia as editor for a local state-run English-language newspaper in the late 1990s. … In a wonderful opening chapter, the bright-eyed 24-year-old Kohn arrives by train in a freezing Ulaanbaatar. His predecessor has obviously had enough of the place and you wonder if Kohn’s enthusiasm is going to survive reality: the power shortages, the cold, the scarcity of decadent Western goods, the communist work ethic of his colleagues, and the US$40 monthly salary. … Dateline Mongolia captures the flavour of that time and is also packed with all the necessary historical and cultural background on Mongolia in digestible form. … a terrific book; it’s fun and informative, varied and intimate.” — Bookish Asia
“Genghis Khan may have stormed across the steppes seven centuries ago but Michael Kohn has probably covered nearly as many miles around one of the world’s most remote and untamed nations. That he’s managed to explore Mongolia from Ulaanbaatar to the Gobi Desert and from frozen winters to baking summers on a salary of just 30,000 tögrögs a month (that’s 40 dollars if your calculator isn’t to hand) as editor of The Mongol Messenger makes his tale of strange places and even stranger people all the more remarkable.” — Tony Wheeler, founder, Lonely Planet guidebooks
“Michael Kohn simultaneously informs and delights the reader in his adventurous romp across the frozen steppes of the planet’s most isolated and mysterious country. He writes with the fast-paced timing of a reporter who senses the global impact of minute issues; yet at the same time, he paints vivid pictures of the Mongolian landscape and people with the skill of a portrait painter. He offers a picture filled with information, where even the most bizarre characters are treated with dignity without avoiding the irony in their lives.” — Jack Weatherford, author of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
“Here is a vivid account of post-Communist Mongolia that reveals much about the traditional culture while at the same time describing the challenges and problems that the country has faced since 1990. The author, a journalist who lived for three years in Mongolia and served as an editor of an English-language newspaper, travelled throughout the country and was a keen observer of tradition and innovations. His anecdotal style offers the reader a unique perspective on a little-known society.” — Morris Rossabi, author of Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times