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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 19 August 2003
There are two excellent reasons for reading this book. The first is that it is it an extraordinary story, well told. The second is that it dovetails beautifully with other memoirs and accounts of the time, notably Narzaroff's Hunted Through Central Asia and many of the superb books written by or (as Mission) introduced by Peter Hopkirk . If you want to know what it was like to be an Englishman alone amid the shifting malignant currents of the Russian Revolution, hunted by the secret police, living on your wits yet trying to carry out a mission, this is the book for you. Better than fiction.
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on 12 December 2013
As ever you get a high degree of scholarship from Hopkirk but still easy to read. Hopkirk displays excellent command of his extensive research and sources. He presents his information in an easily accessible form which would still satisfy most serious scholars. He has managed to retain a grip of the excitement of the times and the glory of the settings. He leaves no stone unturned and no detail unchecked. Well worth the effort.
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on 29 May 2017
The most amazing true-life adventure story ever written.
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on 2 March 2011
Yeah, what they said. On top of which, Bailey writes with a charming modesty and open-mindedness that set him well apart from your average white sahib Great Game player. Interspersed with the author's hair-raising escapades we get numerous glimpses of what life was like for ordinary people in early Revolutionary Tashkent, for instance: "About this time the Bolsheviks passed an order that people who got married could buy four bottles of wine and a little extra food to celebrate the event. Many people already married in church took advantage of this, and, to get a little more food and enjoyment, got married again in the civil registry office."

True, Bailey's mission achieved little. When he finally made it to safety after more than a year undercover, a trek through the desert and a gunfight on the Persian border, General Malleson sniffily observed: "A good deal Bailey reports is old news which we have already had either from my agent or from Bolshevik wireless. In some particulars he is quite wrong." Bailey declines to mention this in his book, or indeed what his own reaction must have been, but we can imagine.

Forget Richard Hannay and Indiana Jones - this is the real thing. Give yourself a treat.
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on 25 February 2009
Mission to Tashkent is a fascinating read - it's the original ripping yarn or thrilling tale before all others, but it's not a work of fiction. This is the actual story of an explorer turned agent, a British 'master-spy' as Moscow referred to him.

Bailey had sixteen months of intelligence gathering and evasion amongst the terror of the Bolshevik Revolution sweeping across Central Asia, and this acount of his travels and experiences is a 'must' read, to not just have a better understanding of the times and the mood of this era, but to show due respect to a great adventurer.
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on 30 March 2006
I have read a number of excellent books concerning Central Asia History and the 'Great Game' exploits between the Soviet & British Empires, but this rates amongst the best because it is a first-hand account written by an excellent author.
Not only is Bailey's an amazing story of cunning & courage of a man trapped & isolated in hostile territory but it is also a marvelous snap-shot of a far-flung corner of the Soviet Empire during it's fledgling days. Baileys has great powers of observation and this enables him to describe in detail both the people and the country around him.
Although this book makes a great read by itself, I believe to fully appreciate the importance of Bailey's Mission and how stranded he was really was, some knowledge of the political setting helps add to the enjoyment of the book. I can recommend Peter Hopkirk's 'Setting the East Ablaze' which is another great book and puts Bailey's Mission in context with the bigger picture.
The only problem with this book is that it leaves a great desire to visit the places mentioned and to keep looking for other books that cover the same subject and the people that Bailey encountered on his journey.
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on 20 January 2017
As others have mentioned it's very detailed on the subject of who Bailey stayed with when moving from place to place, avoiding the Bolsheviks. But as he acknowledged later, the names he used were often picked at random from the bible. His mission seemed quite a limited one, and it soon became one of avoiding arrest by the Cheka when Britain sent some troops into Russia. The journey out of the area into Persia was an interesting tale.

Described as "one of the best books written on secret service espionage", while interesting it really says little about espionage per se.
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on 19 November 2014
Fascinating account of life in Bolshevik controlled areas of what became the USSR. Bailey risked his life towards the end of WW1 to get information about potential threats from Germany in the region, but fell foul of the Bolsheviks. Anyone who thinks Russia was ever civilized should read this.
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on 9 February 2015
Life is often more interesting than fiction and this book has it all
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on 12 November 2016
Bought as a gift for someone who has spent time in Tashkent.
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