In this fascinating book, noted journalist Thomas de Waal--author of the highly acclaimed Black Garden--makes the case that while the Caucasus is often treated as a sub-plot in the history of Russia, or as a mere gateway to Asia, the five-day war in Georgia, which flared into a major international crisis in 2008, proves that this is still a combustible region, whose inner...more
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Published August 11th 2010 by Oxford University Press, USA
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A useful introduction for those with only a passing familiarity with the region's history and ongoing conflicts, de Waal does a better job of describing the past then providing any kind of meaningful analysis for the future. Essentially, de Waal argues that the outside world (the EU, primarily) should try to understand the region's long, convoluted but incredibly intertwined history in order to help defuse its ongoing conflicts (the book concludes shortly after the 2008 Georgia-Russia war) even...more
this work is a great introduction to South Caucasus. the author stresses on the uniqueness of the region without mentioning the Russian influence since the tsarist period. In my view Russia is keeping a divide and rule policy in the present time as well. the change of the way of thinking is a must to reach peace in the region.
Jul 19, 2012 Darin rated it 3 of 5 stars · review of another edition
Good background on a part of the world that is interesting but little known. I found it a bit of a challenge to keep everything straight, since there are three countries and several disputed regions involved, but most of that was my issue and not the fault of the author. The book provided a great overview of the main developmental history and events in the region. As such, it lives up to the "An Introduction" part of the title. The modern information was particularly interesting to me, especiall...more
I bought this book via a recommendation in The Economist. As a warning, if you find the geography, history, and culture of the Balkans, Western Africa, or Central Asia are complex, convoluted, and beyond Byzantine to the point of cultural insanity, then this is the book for you. The primary counries are Georgia (birthplace of Stalin), Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Inhabited since paleolithic times, there are so many ethnic groups, languages, religions, wars, disputes, uprisings, and killings that the...more
Jan 03, 2012 Ajk rated it 4 of 5 stars · review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone trying to get in on the ground floor of the Caucasus
De Waal has a very readable, engaging style which is key if you're going to cover 110 years of very convoluted history. It focuses on the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) which is a bit of a shame but ultimately necessary to keep it short and as readable as it is. Lots of fun nuggets (Stalin didn't go to his mother's funeral!) and good threads of history. Some detail is necessarily removed, but not enough to get really frustrating.
I'm sure some people are going to accuse it of b...more
I'm sure some people are going to accuse it of b...more
Though 'The Caucasus: An Introduction' gives a readable and reasonably detailed analysis of Georgia's conflicts and contemporary political dynamics, de Waal does not discuss any of the other tragedies that have taken place in the Caucasus across the last two decades in any real detail. This is a disappointing book considering the quality of his other studies of the region. Both chapters dedicated to discussing the relationship between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the wake of Soviet collapse fail to...more
Unfortunately the book didn't manage to capture the taste of the food or the majesty of the mountain views, but I guess you can't ask for everything.It's basically an introductory textbook, but it was a surprisingly good read. De Waal's writing is clear and fast moving and he knows the region extremely well. The book covers the region's modern history in exactly the right depth you want from an introductory book. I also liked his objective perspective. Among the insanely bitter ethnic conflicts...more
I would say it is a fine book for a reader or a researcher of history of the Caucasus region. The author Thomas de Waal covers mainly the issues related since late 1980s, or fall of the Soviet Union, till present day situation. The war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh region is discussed in a non-thorough manner, I shall say. Readers are encouraged to move on to "Black Garden"* by the same author, if they would like to learn about the war over disputed regions between Azerbai...more
Excellent, if slim, introduction to the complexities of South Caucasian complexity (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, plus Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorny Karabakh, and that other bit of Azerbaijan...) Totally without travelogue chitchat and sentimental cultural excesses; thoroughly readable and quite enthralling ancient and recent history, built (in the latter stages) around a couple of major issues. Particularly detailed on Caspian oil and Georgian struggles with breakaway republics... perhaps a...more
Excellent overview of the current political situation in the Caucasus proper (Armenia, Azerbaidzan and - especially - Georgia). Although the author stresses that there is no new "Great Game" going on in that region, the jostling for geopolitical power between Russia, the West and Iran is impressive, compounded by the plentiful supplies of oil and gas that could stream to the West without Russian control. I'll be holding on to this book, because I'm sure I'll be looking things up as things in tha...more
Concise book about the recent South Caucasus conflicts (and their historical roots). Suited as "an introduction" into highly complex topics, but even better as fast reference (I take it with me every time I go to the South Caucasus) after reading the more comprehensive literature. Concise, slim, yet not leaving out major points and surprisingly good to read. It will not keep you up all night or explain the fascination of the Caucasus; but for what it is intended to be and what it is - 5 stars.
While the title is THE CAUCUSES, one finds out almost immediately that the book is limited to the South Caucasus: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. It has very little information on the North Caucasus: Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia which were my primary interests. It is written primarily as a research text without narrative flow. Therefore, one can pick and choose the parts of interest easily and forego others.
This book certainly gave me a much clearer perspective on the history of the Caucasus, but it's a bit on the pro-western side in its treatment of the region's most recent developments. It's not that I don't agree with the author's interpretation of events, just that a historian should attempt to remove their biases.
Interesting, despite his obvious bias towards Georgians and ambivalent attitude towards Armenians and Azeris, which quickly became apparent even in his set list of "Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan." Why list the countries in that order? Why not do so alphabetically? Can it be your order of preference, SIR?
A crisp, well-written primer to the region. After a brief history, it focuses on recent ethnic/national wars and the natural resource scramble. One reviewer is probably right in that the author favors, Georgia, but I'm most interested in that country anyway.