The Central Asian countries are perhaps some of the strangest and most unknown to Americans. Their status as former Soviet republics and their off-the-beaten-path location ensure that a majority of Americans know very little about this part of the world.
I've read Christopher Robbins' Apples Are from Kazakhstan, and I think you should as well.
If you appreciate history and if you especially have an interest in the former Soviet Union, then this book will assist in your learning about the USSR in general but far more about the strategic location and importance the Kremlin placed on Kazakhstan. (This is the CIA's "Factbook" on the country.)
Consider the importance of this book if for no other reason than the culturally inept movie Borat, in which the country and people of Kazakhstan are terribly misrepresented.
Of course, the people of Kazakhstan shine brightest in Robbins' work, but his interviews with long-time President Nursultan Nazarbayev will leave you to conclude that either Robbins was sucked into the political propaganda, or that the president is indeed a forward-thinking politician who deserves the nation's love.