So, what do we know about Sogdia and the Sogdians, the relentless holdouts against Arab dominion? Not as much as, say, the Persians, but there is a place to start.
Begin by reading the nice Wikipedia entry about Sogdia. Includes maps, loads of outlinks and lots more information than you can absorb in a single sitting.
Certainly you can absorb this in a 48-minute sitting. It's an episode from the 1980s documentary series The Silk Road, "The Soghdian Merchants":
You may also want to read a bit about An Lushan, a Sogdian who rebelled against the Tang Dynasty. (It may prove useful when it comes time to read the second book in the trilogy...)
Finally, check out this nice exhibit of Sogdian art, hosted by Washington University.
For over 100 years, most of the science fiction produced by the world’s largest country has been beyond the reach of Western readers. This new collection changes that, bringing a large body of influential works into the English orbit.
A beloved Russian classic about a resourceful Russian peasant, Vanya, and his miracle-working horse, who together undergo various trials, exploits and adventures at the whim of a laughable tsar, told in rich, narrative poetry.
Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...
A look at the life and work of Bulat Okudzhava, King of the Bards. Thematic sections have short introductions, and all poems and stories in this volume are presented side by side in English and Russian.
Advance reviewers are calling this new translation "a coup" and "a remarkable achievement." This rediscovered gem of a novel by one of Russia's finest writers explores some of the thorniest issues of the early twentieth century.
One of the most famous works of Russian literature, the four-act comedy in verse Woe from Wit skewers staid, nineteenth century Russian society, and it positively teems with “winged phrases” that are essential colloquialisms for students of Russian and Russian culture.
KGB Chief Andropov has tapped Matyushkin to solve a brazen jewel heist from Picasso’s wife at the posh Metropole Hotel. But when the case bleeds over into murder, machinations, and international intrigue, not everyone is eager to see where the clues might lead.
The very word Siberia evokes a history and reputation as awesome as it is enthralling. In this acclaimed book on Russia’s conquest of its eastern realms, Benson Bobrick offers a story that is both rich and subtle, broad and deep.
Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
This coffee table book is the photographic journal of an epic 6000-kilometer road trip. The book includes over 200 compelling images of Russians and Russian places met along the way, plus a dozen texts (in both English and Russian) on everything from business to education, from roads to fools.