The Caucasus: An Introduction Paperback – 9 Sep 2010
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Nobody has dealt with today's Transcaucasia as lucidly as Thomas de Waal. (Donald Rayfield, Times Literary Supplement)
Astute...Lucis and scrupulous account...De Waal [is] among [the region's] best interpretors. (John Lloyd, Financial Times)
As a clear, brief guide to the countries of south Caucasus, it would be hard to do better than this book. (The Economist)
A compact but rich book. (C. J. Chivers, New York Times Blog)
It is refreshing - almost starlting - to read a book of the Caucasus with such a cool, dispassionate take. (C. J. Chivers, New York Times Blog)
About the Author
Thomas de Waal is a Senior Associate on the Caucasus at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is the author of Black Garden and co-author with Carlotta Gall of Chechnya.
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Top Customer Reviews
His previous books have focussed on specific parts of the region (Chechnya and Nagorny-Karabakh), but this time he has taken on the whole South Caucasus and thus given a secure foundation for anyone wanting to find out about the region, or to do further research into it. Almost all other works that I know are either biassed (pro-Soviet, anti-Russian, pro-American), good but spread too thin (Charles King's the Ghost of Freedom) or just rubbish. His patient debunking of myths and establishing of narrative may not seem a glorious task, but it is necessary, and extremely useful to anyone coming to the Caucasus for the first time.
Nationalists from all three (or six?) countries of the region will hate it, since it skewers their favoured myths and gives fair hearing to the complaints of the opposite side. But if the countries' politicians really wanted to help build a war-free future, they should translate this into Abkhaz, Armenian, Azeri, Georgian, Mingrelian, Ossetian, Russian and Svan and use it as a textbook in every school and university they have.
What is the root of all this? The old chestnut that used to come up in discussions about the wars in the ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s was `ancient hatreds', the incorrigible tribal irrationality of the peoples themselves. In relation to the conflicts described in this book, de Waal shows that relations between communities were often cordial. In the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia, Georgian and South Ossetian villagers had cordial relations based on networks of mutual interests, right up until the 2008 Russian-Georgian war; Azeri-Armenian community relations in Nagorno-Karabakh record a great deal of concord.Read more ›
I am buying a few more copies for presenting to friends.
A few take-aways from me included the revelation that the Russkies are not, generally nowadays, the bad guys though there is some deeply unpleasant history in (Georgian) Stalinist times involving ethnic cleansing/forced migration of entire peoples and consequential genocide - what a tyrant that man was, arguably the most evil that ever lived. Later Russian regimes seemed positively enlightened about their treatment of these areas. The modern Georgians come across as the main instigators of a number of the problems in this area - Abkazia, South Ossetia, bickering with the Russians etc. - and are trying to up the stakes by involving the West in an area that is really Russia's backyard. This is relevant to the West for a number of reasons, not least being that this has partly given rise to the increasingly problematic nature of Chechnya. One has most sympathy with the Azeris who have been consistently outmanouevred by their Armenian rivals and one wonders why the West is not a little more careful about who it chooses as an ally.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A superb and balanced introduction, clearly, concisely and engagingly expressed, to the complications of the history and development up to 2009 of the three countries of the south... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Martin1400
Very good from respectable author. Critical. Probably Caucasians therefore might not like it entirely because of that. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Janis
The best description about the region I have ever seen so far. Thanks Thomas de Waal.Published 10 months ago by Eldaniz Mirzayev
Excellent well written book that, like the other work by Thomas DeWaal, is easy to read.Published 24 months ago by Richard W
I AM coming to love this man's straightforward writing, and his explanations of very complicated issues. Read morePublished on 9 April 2014 by Craig Campbell
Authoritative and accessible introduction to a complex but strategically critical region. De Waal writes confidently and convincingly, and his book should be compulsory reading... Read morePublished on 4 Feb. 2014 by Small Wombat
The politics and history of this region are complicated but De Waal guides you through in a very readable and engaging style. Highly recommended. Read morePublished on 16 Dec. 2013 by Mike
A deep yet concise and very readable account of the recent developments in the Caucasus Region with all its complications. Read morePublished on 12 July 2013 by REVD W B BEER
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