Muslims in the USSR:
Grace Halsell and photographer Brynn Bruijn independently submitted the idea of a special issue of Aramco World on the Muslim peoples and provinces of the Soviet Union at about the time we were covering the region in another context, for our earlier special issue "Traveling the Silk Roads" (September-October 1988). Some two years later, as television and newspapers report dramatic changes in the crescent of Muslim republics across the southern USSR, this issue — produced by the contributors named below — has become more timely than we anticipated. We hope it illuminates the present and the future as well as the past.
Long before her two trips to the Soviet Union for Aramco World, Texas-born Grace Halsell’s journeys had already taken her to Europe, the Far East, South America and the Middle East — and to equally foreign parts of her own United States. She covered the war in Vietnam for The Houston Post, then served President Lyndon Johnson as a speech writer. To research her books Soul Sister, Bessie Yellowhair and The Illegals, Halsell disguised herself, respectively, as an Afro-American, a Native American and a Mexican migrant laborer. Her most recent book, her twelfth, is Prophecy and Politics.
American photographer Brynn Bruijn varies her menu of portrait and interior photography for Dutch magazines with expeditions to Africa or the Far East to take travel and anthropological pictures. Based in Holland for the last 10 years, she took photographs during visits to Nepal that won her a Leica Silver Medallion, and she recently spent three months in Tibet for the Dutch National Ethnographical Museum. Her first book of interiors, The Royal Progress of William and Mary, was published in 1988. Traveling in Central Asia for Aramco World, Bruijn carried Leica R4 cameras and four lenses, all unobtrusively stashed in a heavy coat with big pockets.
Contributing editor John Lawton is a veteran foreign correspondent who has lived in and covered the Middle East, Turkey and Eastern Europe for 15 years for UPI. He studied Soviet affairs in Columbia University’s Advanced International Reporting Progam in New York and, more recently, traveled across Central Asia from Istanbul to China to research and write "Traveling the Silk Roads" — his eighth single-subject issue of the magazine. Lawton is currently writing a book on Samarkand and Bukhara for KEA Publishing Services’ "Travel to Landmarks" series.
Mike Andrews, once a free-lance photographer for London’s Sunday Telegraph Magazine, is now a BBC television documentary producer who always carries a still camera when he travels to film locations. A specialist in wildlife and environmental subjects, he created and produced the much-acclaimed series "The Flight of the Condor:’ Andrews took the photographs in this issue while attending a television conference in Ashkabad.
Designer Peter Keenan studied at Southampton College of Art. His Middle East connections include work with Saudi Arabian Airlines’ in-flight magazine and Turkey’s Turquoise, and he is currently design consultant for UNESCO’s Silk Roads project. This is the fourth special issue of Aramco World designed by Keenan, whose work has won two Ozzie Awards for the magazine.
Michael Grimsdale grew up in Hong Kong, Malaya and South Africa. After studies at Cheltenham, Sandhurst and St. Martins School of Art in London, he traveled and observed in Mexico, Australia and the Pacific. His paintings, drawings and maps have appeared in more than 20 issues of Aramco World.
Photographer Tor Eigeland, a frequent contributor to Aramco World for two decades, recently provided photographs and text for a new National Geographic book on New England.
Crescent and Star