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The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (Kodansha Globe)
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The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (Kodansha Globe)

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  2,646 ratings  ·  225 reviews
Hopkirk's spellbinding account of the great imperial struggle for supremacy in Central Asia has been hailed as essential reading with that era's legacy playing itself out today. The Great Game between Victorian Britain & Tsarist Russia was fought across desolate terrain from the Caucasus to China, over the lonely passes of the Parmirs & Karakorams, in the blazing K...more
Paperback, 589 pages
Published May 15th 1994 by Kodansha International (NYC) (first published 1990)
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The Great Game by Peter HopkirkKim by Rudyard KiplingThe Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard KiplingRaj by Lawrence JamesThe Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye
The "Great Game"
1st out of 24 books — 23 voters
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'Aussie Rick'
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 m...more
Erin Deathstar
Written in a style that is eminently appropriate for this story, The Great Game is a good introductory book for understanding the struggle between Britain and Russia over Central Asia in the 19th C. (If you love Kim by Rudyard Kipling, you will slobber over every page in this book. And I have grown to LOVE Kim. Took me a few decades, but it's the shit… Especially if you read it in a Comp Lit class analyzing the colonial discourse and the unforgivable cries of colonialism. If that's you, give Kim...more
Cameron Willis
This is a complete enough narrative history of the struggle between Russia and Britain for control of Central Asia. So, if you want the bare, exciting outlines, read here, but don't expect analysis or deep thought on the issue. What we have here is a particularly Tory version of imperial history: all the British spies and agents are brave, ingenious, inventive and decent; all the Russians are mysterious, brutal, callous but always one step ahead of the good guys; the 'Asians' are, as always in t...more
I liked this a lot, although I think the relevance to events today has been overplayed a bit by some other reviewers: it's better enjoyed as a stirring history than a political primer.

I knew a little about the Great Game before – that 19th-century wrangling over Central Asia between Britain and Russia – but I hadn't appreciated before how motivated both sides were, in Britain's case because they feared encroachment on their ‘jewel of the Empire’, British India, and in Russia's case because they...more
First things first, it is an engaging read, with just the correct amount of detail and narrative punch.

Covering a time period right from the 16th Century, when the Russians slowly started expanding eastwards and came in conflict first with the Central Asian Khanates, then with the British Raj in the 19th Century, the book finishes with the Great Game's own end in the beginning of the 20th Century when Japan beat the Russian Empire. Hopkirk does a decent job of covering such a massive time span w...more
Oct 23, 2008 Robert rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers interested in foreign affairs, central and south Asia, and world history.
This book is an excellent account of the competition between the British and Russians to dominate Central and South Asia, including the Central Asian republics, Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan throughout the 19th century With the development of Caspian Basin oil and gas, the "great game" goes on even today--2008. So this book is fascinating reading, even if it was first published around 1990. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about it, however, is the degree to which British military adve...more
Apr 29, 2014 Sicofonia rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: To anyone!!!!!
I very rarely give 5 stars to a book, and when I do it is for a reason.

The Great Game is by far one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read. As some other fellow "goodreaders" put it, this book reads like an adventure novel. It is concise and clear in its arguments, and the way is written always left me wanting for more after finishing a chapter. It's like one story unfolding the following one. It is not very often that you see something like this on a book, let a alone a history one. That's...more
Gerald Sinstadt
"There were peaches, plums, apricots, pears, apples, quinces, cherries, walnuts, mulberries pomegranates and vines all growing in one garden. There were also nightingales, blackbirds, thrushes and doves ... and chattering magpies on almost every tree." Thus Alexander Burnes, a young British subaltern, likening the city he had entered for the first time to paradise. The date was April 1832. The city was Kabul.

Peter Hopkirk's masterly history goes a long way to explaining how the capital of Afgha...more
Jim Coughenour
A fully satisfying popular history of the long struggle between the British and Russian empires during the 19th century. I won't summarize the content because others have already done a great job elsewhere on this page.

After reading Foreign Devils on the Silk Road and The Great Game, I'm now one of Hopkirk's many fans. I've already acquired his four other books and look forward to many more hours of leisurely reading, historical narrative as entertaining as fiction. As I've just started Kipling'...more
Eugenia Vlasova
Why is history so important? Because it helps us to understand better our present, realize the deep reasons of recent events and make more accurate forecasts regarding consequences they may have. Why do we learn nothing from history? Well, perhaps because we keep ourselves too alienated, too distant from the events that happened in the past and forget that history is nothing but a sum of decisions and actions made by individuals.

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Ho...more
Erik Graff
May 25, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
I read this because of the Bush administration's moves towards war after the 9/11 bombings, hoping to get some historical background to Afghanistan, about which I knew very little. On this score, the book was not only what I wanted, but also a pleasure to read.
Un'incredibile cavalcata

Ammetto le mie lacune. Geografiche e storiche. Ho sempre visto all'Asia centrale, e di preciso quell'area che va dall'attuale Medio Oriente (l'Iran per intenderci) fino alla Cina e all'India, in maniera piuttosto nebulosa. Ci sono un sacco di stati che finiscono in -stan, che agli occhi del neofita sembrano tutti uguali. Questo perché forse non ci se ne interessa mai, sia nella scuola nel quale il colonialismo viene poco studiato ed approfondito (forse per la scarsa prope...more
Sophie Schiller
Words cannot express the invaluable service that Peter Hopkirk has rendered to students of the Great Game with this impressive volume. Starting heartrendingly with the 1842 execution of Colonel Charles Stoddart and Captain Arthur Conolly at the hands of the villainous Emir of Bokhara, climaxing with Francis Younghusband's meeting with the Russian Captain Gromchevsky in the Pamirs that almost ignited a war, and ending with the ill-fated British mission to Lhasa, The Great Game keeps the reader in...more
More than fine as a military history of Russian & British machinations in Central Asia (probably a must-read on the subject, in fact) whose prose, despite leaning heavily on the crutch of cliches, has a galloping momentum that nicely dispersed the clouds pass over my vision whenever I encounter dates and things that happened on them. But, criminy, does Hopkirk ever hoist the tattered flag of imperialism high. This wasn't, nor should be, billed as having anything to do with the culture of the...more
If you liked The Man Who Would be King (story or movie), Kim, the Flashman novels, or Errol Flynn's Charge of the Light Brigade, this is the book for you. Seriously, there's enough material in this book for twenty movies or novels. What a cast of characters! Evil Khans, torture, battles, sieges, (lots of) intrigue, all taking place on remarkable landscapes that are often both beautiful and cruel. Hopkirk is a wonderful writer, and he brings the "Great Game" to life. On the downside, it is a popu...more
Peter Black
Peter Hopkirk has amazing skill at writing a compelling narrative. That is his major strength as a writer. For a work that is essentially a work of history, it almost reads like a work of fiction... and every now and again you have to pause and remind yourself it's a factual historical narrative, one that captures the essence, drama, cultural and wild geographical romance of a region in times far removed from ours, but which is back in the headlines today. I particularly enjoy his writing style...more
Procyon Lotor
Dove vai caro? "In Kashgaria" A un tenente inglese, di stanza in una guarnigione indiana viene concessa una licenza. Va a trovare Jane? Al mare? Al capezzale della prozia? Si iscrive al torneo di bridge? No. Dice pi� o meno, "vado a mappare il Tagikistan". Ma se nessuno sa nemmeno dove sia?!? Appunto. E parte. Nel viaggio incontra una Citt�, governata da un ferocissimo Khan, ma sfugge e riesce ad inviare un messaggio dove segnala che il Conte Klimoff � passato di la. Sospettando intrighi di Piet...more
Anyone with an interest in learning the history of the Great Game, the term Rudyard Kipling used to describe the struggle between England and Russia for the khanates of central Asia, will enjoy this wonderfully written book. Hopkirk weaves stories of personal heroism into the global struggle and the end result is a book you will look forward to picking up each evening.
While reading the book book there was guilt. The guilt was due to the enjoyment the book brought to me; while trying to reconcile the dirty subject of colonialism. Once past this, the book is full of high adventure in a far away place and time when news were not instant, men lived fast and died even faster.
Don't get me wrong, I DID like the book (that's what three stars mean, incidentally). It's a well written overview and the subject matter is just so fascinating. I personally find this mixture of danger, physical hardship, different cultures, politics, spying and everything else very difficult to resist. I'm afraid I'm in love with most of the players - the frontier ones at least.

The reason I gave it three, not four stars (I almost never give five, 'cause I'm difficult to please), is that I read...more
Swashbucking adventure in Central Asia. And it's all real history! From the Pashtuns to the Mongols, from the British to the Czar. This book is a traveler's adventure.
Arun Ellis
I really did enjoy this book, if you like Imperial history then this is one for you.
Most of my historical reading has been England and her battles in Europe and North America. This book takes on the exploration/battle for Asia between Britain, Russia and then China.

Fascinating. I flipped back constantly to the maps trying to place where we were. And I begin to understand why the current events in Asia and the Middle East are unfolding as they do. Equally fascinating were the number of names who played major roles in "the great game" who were also involved in the exploration of...more
A very readable book on the history of competition for the areas of Central and South Asia that would result in the expansion of Russia and help to maintain Britain's rule over India. It is amazing to read of the hardships and risks taken by explorers, military men, journalists and traders simply to reach these often inaccessible areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Tibet, Persia and all the trips to Bokhara, Tashkent, Samarkand and lesser known spots in between that it involved. The names a...more
Alireza dehghan
this was an amazing story of the 18 and 19 century struggle between two emerging great powers of the world,Britain and Russia, and what happens to the small and big local governments, khans and kings to bent before one of them,great powers playing great game. The book gives detail storyies of the each sides agents in the central asia and Gafgazia. even though it is written by a British man, but the book tries to tell the both side story. of cours the briotish agents story because of the books th...more
A great history book that reads like a thriller. On many instances I was riveted by the suspenseful narrative and learned a lot at the same time.

The book covers the history of the Great Game, from about 1700 to about 1917 although the focus is on the 19th century. Issues covered in this book include the waning threat of the Mongols -- the Napoleonic threat to British India -- the exploration of Central Asia by British and Russian explorers -- the siege of Herat -- the race for Khiva -- the annex...more
The Great Game is a story of bravery, cruelty, honor, greed, and violence. In the name of national honor, Great Britain and Russia found themselves locked into a strategic chess match over Central and Southern Asia. The exotic realms of the region were the pawns. By the 1700s Russia and Great Britain were established nation states, both looking to expand. Britain's prize to protect was India/Pakistan and it moved north in present day Afghanistan to secure its flank. Russia's imperial designs lur...more
James Murphy
This excellent history shows that Central Asia hasn't just recently become an important strategic region. Great powers have shown an appreciation for its importance for hundreds of years. It sits astride the landmass like the hub of a wheel with spokes radiating into the Russian hinterland, east Asia, India and the Indian Ocean, and the Arab lands around the Persian Gulf. The players today are different, but lines of power are still trying to move through the region while others seem to be tryin...more
The Great Game is a cautionary tale showing the huge gamble the U. S. is now taking in Afghanistan. It is well a written history of Central Asia throughout the 19th Century.

Hopkirk records the repeated conflict, at war and through diplomacy, between England and Russia. England believed Russia would invade India and Russia was extending its empire in Central Asia and the Far East. Based on the recent availability of Russian archives, Hopkirk questions if Russia ever had a serious intent to invade...more
History texts usually tend to be a bit dry and can be inaccessible to those who lack basic knowledge of the events discussed within. Such books can easily cause readers to become frustrated or bored and eventually dissuade them from reading through to the end. When this is the case, reading becomes a chore.

Fortunately, Hopkirk's account of the Great Game by no means fits this standard as it is fun to read. In it, he tells the history of British and Russian foreign policy in Asia largely through...more
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