The first book to comprehensively cover the emergence of Kazakh identities within the broader cultural and political context of Central Eurasia. Avoiding the pitfall of projecting national identity back in time it shows what early Kazakhs thought made them distinct from other groups. He brings historical phenomena such as the Zaporozhian Cossacks of Ukraine and the Don Cossacks of southern Russia into a much larger Central Eurasian world by focusing on the post-Mongol institution of qazaqlïq (cossackdom). Lee’s book is concise and engaging, as it tackles a vast geographical area, a number of ethnic groups, and a premodern time period.
The work is impressive in terms of the breadth of research and the multilingual nature of the sources, both primary and secondary. It is a true exemplar of Central Eurasian studies and it is also provocative — author is clear about where his arguments and interpretations are building on or conflicting with the interpretations of other scholars.