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The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia Paperback – 27 Mar 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; Reprint edition (27 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719564476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719564475
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Brilliant' (Patrick Leigh Fermor, Daily Telegraph)

'There can be few more fascinating subjects, or few authors better qualified to write about it' (Fitzroy Maclean, Independent)

'Immensely readable and magisterially detached. A gripping and impressive narrative of adventure and war' (Financial Times)

'Hopkirk's brilliant and engrossing account remains the classic text on how to handle the various and often dangerous people who inhabit the region, fill of tips and warnings for the Game's current players.' (BBC History Magazine)

'Fans of political history and adventure are in for a treat as publishing house John Murray reissues its Peter Hopkirk series' (Siân Gibson, Geographical Magazine)

Book Description

'Peter Hopkirk is truly the Laureate of the Great Game' Jan Morris


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You could smell them coming, it was said, even before you heard the thunder of their hooves. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 77 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Jan 2002
Format: Paperback
An excellent book. I first came across it a few years ago, and since then I've read a large amount on central Asia - including most of Hopkirk's books on the subject.
The history of the Great Game itself is extraordinary. A mix of low cunning with unbelievable naivete, astounding stupidity with phenomenal intelligence, great luck with unexpected disasters, courage with cowardice...It is a Boy's Own story come to life, and Hopkirk effortlessly conveys this.
Although sometimes a little carried away by events, generally Hopkirk has written an extremely readable, highly informative work. I've recommended it to many friends. Even for those with no particular interest in the region, it is a fine exercise in power politics and the development of empires.
Although this is Hopkirk's best work, I can also recommend his accounts of the impact of the Great War and the intrigues against the Bolsheviks.
And I left my last copy on the bus, so it's time to get a new copy...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Winterson Richards on 25 Dec 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a brilliant success on two levels. At the most basic level, it is a thrilling tale of high adventure. Whatever one's view of imperialism, one cannot deny the courage of men like Pottinger, Moorcroft, Conolly, Abbott, and Burnes - and their equally courageous Russian counterparts like Muraviev and Rafailov - who did not hesitate to travel thousands of miles across lands about which they knew nothing except that they contained vast deserts, towering mountains, ferocious bandits, and local rulers who had good reason to be suspicious of them. Hopkirk's fair minded account pays due tribute to the explorer-spies on both sides, and explains both the mutual misunderstandings and the very real reasons each had to be wary of the other's intentions. At the same time, but at a much more elevated level, he provides a timely critique of Western meddling in Central Asia. He advances no agenda - he simply reports the facts, but they speak for themselves. It is a safe bet that no member of the British Cabinet which initiated the recent Helmand Province Campaign has read this book. Had they done so, history need not have repeated itself, foreseeable problems could have been avoided, and some fine people would still be alive. Indeed, it would be enough if they had considered only a single sentence, about another Afghan campaign that turned into a predictable disaster almost two hundred years ago, and the opinion of a man who knew something of both soldiering and the region: "The Duke of Wellington for one was strongly against it, warning that where the military successes ended the political difficulties would begin."
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Aussie Reader on 30 Dec 2001
Format: Paperback
Peter Hopkirk's book 'The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia' is a great historical account and a very enjoyable book to read. It is very rare nowadays to find a book that holds your attention throughout, without finding one boring section, this is one of those books. In over 560 pages (paperback edition) Peter Hopkirk tells the amazing stories of a number of early British and Russian officers and men involved in the great imperial struggle for supremacy in Central Asia.
I found myself reading late into the morning, at times I couldn't put the book down. Most of the time I had heard of the places and people involved but a lot of this story was new to me. The narrative read like a novel, gripping but informative, never boring and full of information, breathing life into history in a way that is hard to find now-a-days.
This is a great book and I fully agree with the quote on the front cover of the book by Jan Morris "Peter Hopkirk is truly the laureate of the Great Game." If you ever wanted to learn something about this large and remote area then this is the book to start with. If you enjoy military history then this book has it, if you enjoy historical accounts of exploration then this book has it, if you just enjoy good history then this book has it all.
The story of Britain and Russia carving out their Empires in India, Afghanistan and the surrounding areas is truly fascinating and I was amazed at the brave and resourceful men who carved their name in history during this period. Most people have heard of the Khyber Pass and places like Chitral however I had never heard of the Pamirs and Karakorams mountain ranges or of the Kerman and Helmund deserts nor of some of the fierce and warlike tribes that lived in these areas.
After reading this book I yearn for more information about this region and I intend to buy the rest of Peter Hopkirk's books. I would rate this book one of the better ones I have read this year...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Figures on 2 Jun 2007
Format: Paperback
This is one of those rare books - a history that is more exciting and more wonderfully unbelievable than any fiction writer would dare invent - a well written narrative that keeps the reader on the edge of his seat! I literally couldn't put this book down. This was an age where "derring-do" and stiff upper lips were the norm and life was incredibly cheap. We may smirk at such nonsense nowadays and shake our heads at such empire-making, but these men and women, on all sides, believed in their cause and were willing to sacrifice themselves for it.

If you ever wondered how such a small and indignificant island gained the biggest empire the world has ever seen (and then lost it), read this book and wonder at the heroism and stupidity that strode hand in hand toward their date with destiny.

One of the top five books I've ever read
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