Professor Kairat Zakiryanov, Under the Wolf’s Nest Book

CaptureA public launch of Under the Wolf’s Nest: A Turkic Rhapsody took place in London first at the Royal Geographic Society on 12/12/12 and then again at the Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre the next day. Following on from Professor Zakiryanov’s presentation of the book to audiences at the Open Central Asia Book Forum and Literature Festival, held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 24-25/11/12, audiences of over 50 people at both events enjoyed the first discussion in the UK of the author’s work which has  now been translated into English.

Drawing on sources from Herodotus through to contemporary academic research, the crucial role in the birth of Islam, Christianity and modern civilization played by Turkic nomads is revealed by Professor Kairat Zakiryanov, President of the Kazakh Academy of Sport and Tourism. In the book Zakiryanov explains how generations of steppe nomads, including Genghis Khan, have helped shape the language, culture and populations of Asia, Europe, the Middle East and America through migrations taking place over millennia.Under The Wolf’s Nest: A Turkic Rhapsody, has created a unique historical concept uniting some of the most disparate but commonly described historical data into a single theory, from which we can see the Turkic peoples’ crucial role in the creation by Eurasian steppe nomads of many foundations of modern European civilisation.  The renowned German scientist Alfred Weber said that world history was created to the accompaniment of nomad cavalry, and Professor Zakiryanov in his book repeatedly seeks to prove the historical roots of this process.

That such a book should emerge in the post-Soviet searches by newly independent nations for their own identity is not surprising. The content will find many sympathetic readers and admirers among a wide range of people that are interested in understanding socio-cultural Turkic history, as well as the phenomenon of people like Genghis Khan, who in the modern civilised world has been recognised as the man of the second millennium. Zakiryanov’s snippets of insight into the origins of people, language and religions will ask the reader to reconsider his or her own views and beliefs. For example, one section suggests that Adam and Eve are from Almaty since the city’s name translates in two ways: ‘apple’ and the prohibition ‘do not take it’. In the Biblical story of Eden God warns Adam and Eve not to touch (alma) the forbidden fruit of the apple (alma) tree. So, is it coincidental that the word alma should be used for an apple? Another section considers Britain’s King Arthur, the Kazakh nomads and Scottish whisky to be linked, as well as highlighting a number of cultured European ideas and items that have their roots back to the once “barbarian” Kazakh nomads.

IMG_9834Kairat Khairullinovich Zakiryanov leads one of Kazakhstan’s largest educational academies, and in recent years he has become known as the author of books dedicated to the history of his people. That this eminent Kazakh academic, whose expertise is connected with professional studies, should address the themes of the nation’s history should be regarded as entirely legitimate. This interest in the ancestral history of the Eurasian steppe nomads is rooted at a very deep genetic level.  Professor Zakiryanov takes a special place among a group of researchers studying such themes by focusing attention on the linguistic analysis of Eurasian ethnonyms, and by dealing with the one of the key issues of Turkic history: the origin of Genghis Khan’s Mongols. Professor Zakiryanov’s deep interest in this theme is perhaps also due to his originating from the Kazakh Naimans. The Naimans were powerful Central Asian nomads, who at first were the formidable opponents of Genghis Khan, and later became a most important strategic element of troops within the empire he created.  Professor Kairat Zakiryanov is an award-winning Kazakh author and academic whose previous books include The Turkic Saga of Genghis Khan, and Secret Legends of the Kazakhs. He holds doctorates in education, mathematics and physics, and is President of the Kazakh Academy of Sport and Tourism. He was born on the banks of the Irtysh river, in the ancient ancestral lands of the Sumerians, in the Eastern Kazakhstan oblast.


Under the Wolf’s Nest: A Turkic Rhapsody by Professor Kairat Zakiryanov was translated into English and edited by Robin Thomson; it is published by Hertfordshire Press and is available from and


This book is phenomenally symptomatic of the post-Soviet age when newly independent nations of Central Asia search for their historical and cultural self-identity. Its arguments and conclusions present a real challenge for the academics in the field of Turkic linguistics, social anthropology and cultural studies of Kazakhstan.

Dr Firuza Melville (Director of the Shahnama Centre, Pembroke College), University of Cambridge or Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge


In this engaging page turner “Under the Wolf’s nest: A Turkic Rhapsody” KairatZakiryanov succinctly covers topics as vast and mesmerising as the steppe itself. Connecting people spread across a vast area through a common culture, shared values and a sense of belonging is something Turkic people and their leaders know a lot more about than any other civilization. They have contributed richly to the world civilization and even some of the most positive aspect globalisation can be traced to have been derived from the nomadic polity which is a significant part of the author’s Kazakh Turkic heritage.

Prof Siddharth S Saxena, Chairman, Cambridge Central Asia Forum, JesusCollege, Cambridge

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