Robert's Reviews > The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia

The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk
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Oct 23, 08

Recommended for: readers interested in foreign affairs, central and south Asia, and world history.
Read in October, 2008, read count: once

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 adventures, and disasters, in Afghanistan parallel NATO/US military actions at the moment. Fragmented, but united in xenophobia, the multiple peoples of Afghanistan don't comply with the wishes of foreign forces. Political solutions to conflict seem to be the only path to temporary peace, but this requires tact, patience, and the recognition that Afghans are likely to rebalance their power structures to their own liking soon after intruders depart.

One more point: The Great Game accepts, to a certain degree, the romanticism and exoticism inherent in the British (and Russian) imperial outlook. This means that it celebrates British and Russian plotting and exploring, in defense of their respective commercial interests, with scant attention paid to indigenous perspectives. So it's a very one sided story.
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