Most Americans couldn’t find Turkmenistan on a map if you offered them a lifetime supply of unleaded and a permanent tax holiday. Ken Silverstein, however, can not only find the former Soviet country, he can count it as a client. Armed with freshly printed business cards and the barely believable alias “Kenneth Case,” Silverstein went undercover as a fake Capital Hill lobbyist for the Central Asian nation. There, he made it his duty to transform the deeply troubled and ill-reputed country—famous for the type of cronyism that put illiterate sheepherders in high-level cabinet positions—look like a respectable ally in the eyes of Washington’s lawmakers. Following up a series of articles he wrote on his experience as a fraudulent lobbyist in Harper’s Magazine, Silverstein wrote Turkmeniscam: How Washington Lobbyists Fought to Flack for a Stalinist Dictatorship. This breezey tell-all is relentlessly amusing, though it might make you want to catch the next flight out of Washington—unless it’s bound for Turkmenistan.
SILVERSTEIN READS AT 12:30 P.M. AT THE HYATT REGENCY BETHESDA, 7400 WISCONSIN AVE., BETHESDA. FREE. (301) 215-6660.