context: “In the fall of 1996, while my fellow volunteers and I underwent our Peace Corps training, Uzbekistan was suffering its largest agricultural shortfall in history. I knew nothing of this. Nor did I know about the potentially climacteric deals with Western companies such as McDonald’s melting into air because of the Uzbek government’s devotion to nativistic, strong-arm economics.”
Tom Bissell is saying that, even if you were inside Uzbekistan, it was hard to know much about it.
definition: “any critical period”
So those “climacteric deals with … McDonald’s” were crititcally timed deals? The opportunity not grasped at once was lost? … McDonald’s? Yeah. Won’t see its like again.
The “critical period” definition seemed most apropos. However, the main definition seems to be: menopause …
source of quote: Chasing the Sea: lost among the ghosts of empire in Central Asia, by Tom Bissell