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73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - how history should be
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...
Published on 11 Jan 2002

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading
Really interesting history which gives great insight into what has happened in the regions recently. The use of old place names means a use of wikipedia because the maps in the book are not legible using the basic kindle. I would buy a paper copy of this book on this basis.
Published on 23 Jun 2012 by TIPB56


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73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - how history should be, 11 Jan 2002
By A Customer
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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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Story - A Great Read, 30 Dec 2001
By 
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important Lessons for Today, 25 Dec 2008
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This review is from: The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia (Paperback)
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When will we ever learn, 17 Dec 2010
By 
Mr. S. Mcmanus "Steve McManus" (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia (Paperback)
A very absorbing and informative read; well researched and relatively well choreographed in terms of the sequence of events. This book reflects the history and, to some degree, the futility of Britains presence in Afghanistan - fighting wars we were never going to win. Whilst it lauds and applauds the Great Game and illustrates the greed and duplicity if 19th century super-powers in their quests for territorial gain and pecuniary advantage, it also illustrates the insurmountable differences in cultures, values and religions. Born out of Englands' fears that they would lose their prize and Russias covetousness to gain it!
In many ways this book is a collection of true "boy's own" stories and reflects the daring, the courage and the bravery of some of our 19th century heroes,with more than a hint of Kiplings' genius as a story teller as a backdrop; at the same time showing the crass aristocratic attitudes of the appointed military and civil heirarchy with their arrogant and unfaltering sense of superiority due mainly to inbreeding and elitist education. They made a lot of mistakes and cost a lot of people their lives in the name of imperialism, but at least they were protecting something of value and benefit to their country.
My biggest criticism is that the maps were too small and too detailed for their size and would have been put to better use included within the chapters to which they referred.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tremendous tale, 26 April 1997
By A Customer
Hopkirk's splendidly fluid narrative describes with tremendous zeal
and excitement the cold-war like atmosphere that prevailed in Asia Minor from 1830 to 1900. The British, as they ruled
India, realized that it was one of their most treasured possessions. And Russia recognized this as well. From the time of
Peter the Great, Russia had always wanted to posses India and her resources. From the times that Nadir Shah, the ruler of
mighty Persia, sacked Delhi and took away as much as he possibly carry over the hostile passes of the Hindukush
mountain, the wealth of India was legendary. Even Napoleon, prior to his disastrous invasion of Russia, had approached
the Tsar and proposed a combined effort to drive the British out of India and capture the country and it's fabulous
wealth. But since a sea invasion was impossible logistically for Russia, a land invasion was the only choice. The Great Game
recounts will chilling detail and with great political intrigue the events and actions that forged Central Asia what it is today as
a result of this quest for conquest. But in his book Hopkirk also does us a wonderful favour: he recounts the travels, in brief,
of some of the most intrepid and enduring of the Great Game Travelers like Alexander Burnes, Robert Shaw, and Fred Burnaby.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Yarn, 6 Nov 2006
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This review is from: The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia (Paperback)
This is a wonderful yarn - well written history that is a real page turner. The story has tremendous momentun with suspense, intrigues, vilans and heros ... reading this broght me back to my youth reading comics like the Victor or such like except in this case this was the historical foundation for many a plucky comic book hero.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More exciting than fiction, 2 Jun 2007
By 
A. Figures "book junkie" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting rendition of a bygone age, 9 April 2003
Meticulously researched and brilliantly rendered account of Imperial rivalry between Russia and Britain in the 19th century over control of Asia and the northern passages to India.
Nor does the author neglect to highlight the human cost paid by those who were subjects and victims of this struggle.
A must-read for anyone who wants to understand the conflicts today in central asia. I certainly hope the author will issue an updated edition in the near future now that sealed Russian archives have become (I assume) more accessible.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly gripping history, 6 Aug 2001
By A Customer
I've just finished the previous edition of this marvellous book. Hopkirk juggles history, politics, diplomacy and high adventure as he describes the intrigue, heroism and occasional tragedies as British India and the Russian Empire gradually started to clash and conspire across the mountains, deserts and high plains of Central Asia.
Richly atmospheric and thoroughly researched, an absolute joy to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alarmingly close to prevailing policies., 16 Jun 2009
By 
S Smyth (Belfast, Co Antrim United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia (Paperback)
The Great Game is concerned with the control of India via a land invasion of India through the strategic countries in and around India, by the empires of Britain and Russia. And the incredible lack of knowledge about the geography of the region, and the land which became the Central Asian Republics, under Russia.

Getting around was mostly on foot, with rail travel at a giddy 15 miles per hour becoming a factor in the latter stages of play, which officially came to an end in 1904, but has never really expired.

The players have changed to some extent, with the US now predominant. The motivating factors have also changed, but, as they say in France: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose :-)
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The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia
The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia by Peter Hopkirk (Paperback - 27 Mar 2006)
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