[READ] (The Great Game The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia)

Aordinary that it s hard to mind too muchI d be interested to see a update of some of this when it came out the Soviet Union was still in place and it would be good to know which previously hidden records on the Russian side have now become available Until then it s a great primer on a fascinating period of imperial history It s a fabulous eastern action adventure full of the brave and resourceful British explorers and fighters confronting treacherous oriental despots as they maneuver to protect the jewel in the crown from another colonial power Hopkirk covers a vast swathe of history and territory from Russia s eastward expansion to Alaska to the Russo Japanese War He does warn ou early on that his goal is to be impartial but Goodbye Soldier War Biography you can t tell a bit asou read A compelling narrative with fantastic material I don t know why easterns aren t popular In 1236 Mongol horsemen swept westward through Russia tying serfs to the Tartar Cinnamon and Elephants: Sri Lanka and the Netherlands from 1600 (Rijksmuseum country series) yoke The Golden Horde would exact tribute until Ivan the Terrible defeated the khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan in the mid 1500 s opening the way for expansion east through Siberia Peter the Great turned his gaze south through the Caucasus and Caspian towards Persiaet was thwarted by Nader Shah in 1735 In 1757 the British began major territorial gains in India The aspirations and apprehensions of these rival European empires became the Great Game played out in Central Asia during the 1800 sIn the late 18th century the British were concerned with Catherine the Great s expansion into Crimea but distracted by the rise of Napoleon The Russian defeat of the French in 1812 helped to end one concern but created another Threat of a Russian attack on India via Turkey and Tehran obsessed the British and a cold war Russophobia took hold Tsar Alexander I sent envoys to Khiva present day Uzbekistan to make allies and secure forward positions British probed passes of Afghanistan seeking similar advantage in Bukhara a neighboring kingdom on the Silk RoadA Russian treaty with the Ottoman Empire to control the Dardenelles Straight stoked paranoia in the 1830 s British intrigue in Kabul precipitated the disastrous Anglo Afghan War of the 1840 s The 1850 s Crimean War strained Russian relations with Britain The 1860 s US civil war raised Russian interests in Central Asian cotton and Tashkent was taken Soon Samarkand fell Spies like Frederick Burnaby rode to Khiva in the 1870 s Britain controlled the Suez Canal in the 1880 s while Russia layed rails in Central Asia Russians invaded Afghanistan in the 1890 s as did the British in early 1900 s TibetAuthor Peter Hopkirk culls from many period accounts He tells the stories of adventurers spies secret agents and provocateurs Geographical survey was a priority as much was unknown about the region Henry Pottinger in Muslim disuise explored from Baluchistan to Isfahan in 1810 He later played a leading role in the Opium War Treaty of Nanking and founding of Hong Kong Alexander Burnes who made an overland reconnaissance in 1831 traced the Indus River crossed the Khyber Pass to Kabul and became famous during his lifetime for the book Travels Into Bukhara Hopkirk was a late 20th century British writer perhaps best known for this work He began as a journalist on risky assignments in Africa and the Mideast Widely traveled he was a collector of Victorian books on the subjects he covered All of his works were about Central and South Asia covering eclectic topics such as archaeology in Xinjiang Bolshevik subversion in India and Kipling s sources of inspiration for Kim The history is anglocentric but takes a reasonable view towards other players The writing is unpretentious and clear if somewhat oversimplified and given to cliche at times An excellent book charting the rivalry between the British and the Russians in Central Asia from Peter the Great until Russia s disastrous defeat by Japan in 1905 The epic tale is told through the adventures of the various soldiers explorers and thrill seekers who deployed to this vast unknown and hazardous region on behalf of their respective governments Slowly the region was absorbed by the imperial powers with many a disastrous mishap on the way In particular Afghanistan remained an intractable buffer between the two imperial giants A must for anyone who like me wants a concise history of imperial interference in this area This is narrative history that can keep one enthralled from the first to the last page Cliches such as page turner apply No doubt the game itself can be discussed further new books published etc etc but who cares Hopkirk has written a book that had me looking at the maps researching the characters marking the bibliography for further literature to read What can one want A wonderful book First things first it is an engaging read with just the correct amount of detail and narrative punchCovering 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 without getting too technical and boring his readersHowever what took me aback was the language and propaganda used throughout the book which is suitable for something written in the heady days of Imperialism in the 1870s and 1880s rather than a book published in 1990 Consider for example when Hopkirk talks about the meeting between the British spydiplomatemissary Alexander Burnes later Sir Alexander and the Emir of Afghanistan Dost Mohammad Dost Mohammad being an Afghan prince was schooled in the art of intrigue and treachery right from childhood This is shockingly irresponsible all the so because we know it was Alexander Burnes who was intriguing for the Raj in AfghanistanThe book is extremely lopsided using loaded terms such as Asiatic despot and Oriental tyrant with depressing regularity and presenting all Asian rulers right from the Shah of Persia to the leader of the Sikhs to the Khans Emirs and chiefs of various kingdoms as corrupt venal and easily seduced by money trinkets and women handed out to them by clever and resourceful Europeans While this was true of many of them to simply state this without exploring the kind of military political and even cultural and religious pressure that the Europeans could bring to bear is very misleading Even the repetitive stating of the fact that many of bring to bear is very misleading Even the repetitive stating of the fact that many of Central Asian chiefs had a misguided sense of their own importance and no idea about Britain Russia and their relative strengths own importance and no idea about Britain Russia and their relative strengths of ridicule after a while which is bizarre coming from a historian specializing in these subjectsIt appears that Hopkirk has swallowed the propaganda of that age whole He even goes so far as to explain away naked Russian imperialism and racism in Central Asia as some kind of payback for what the Mongols did in Russia some four centuries earlier What next the Scramble for Africa was revenge for the trauma suffered by the Europeans thanks to Hannibal Similarly the well documented murder rape and pillaging carried out by the British in the first Anglo Afghan War is simply stated as boisterous womanizing Every Russian advance is met with a shudder and Hopkirk trembles with rage when news of what would now be termed human rights abuses is carried out by the Russian army in Central Asia But no mention is made of what the British themselves were engaging in India And the conuering of the Punjab and the Sindh by the British in the 1840s mainly as massive new opium farmland is dealt with in a few short sentences While Hopkirk Studiously Mentions The studiously mentions the majors captains and lieutenants on both the British and Russian sides who heroically laid down their lives there is a characteristic lack of any Asian names and even the name of the contemporary Shahs is never mentioned while all the Tsars are Hopkirk tries to take neither the British or Russian side but there is not a single note on what the Indians Persians or other Asians thought or think about the Great Game supposedly for whose benefit it was playedWhat is crippling in this book is that Hopkirk fails to see this period with a modern eye While it isn t necessary that all periods of history should be critically re looked at Hopkirk does a serious misjudgment here because this book serves as a salve to Western readers who still think that Europeans did a jolly good job with their Empires as is evident in this book s popularity right here on Goodreads It also doesn t help that Peter Hopkirk unabashedly hero worships uestionable characters such as Alexander Burnes who are directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths rape and imprisonment of thousandsBottomline Engaing read if ou can overcome the fact that Peter Hopkirk has distinctly one dimensional and outdated views. When play first began the two rival empires lay nearly 2000 miles apart By the end some Russian outposts were within 20 miles of Indi. Ict was conducted by artists and inventors and intellectuals and con men far below the radar of the diplomats and politicians The men in charge were explorers spy masters and spies who had an incredible wealth of means before them They were map makers again cf Lawrence surveyors costume artists cross dressers hucksters and linguists Sometimes magicians witches and jewel connoisseurs and libertinesAlso super relevant for our time with the silent struggle for oil in Central Asia Every now and again one comes across an article about Central Asia but the coverage is hardly in proportion to the intensity of business political criminal and petro economical activity in that region There s a lot of unknown knowledge in this area and it s pretty fun to read about it before it s been totally containerizedHighly recommended for people who are trying to figure out why and how the US is in Afghanistan the whyhow of the Soviet invasion in 1980 the upcoming Great Game in Ira Afghanistan Georgia Turkistan Uzbekistan Peter Hopkirk s excellent book The Great Game The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia represents an extended tale of Silk Road spies Oriental despots cartographers enlisted by the Royal Geographic Society at times disguised as Afghan traders high ranking titled British officers agent provocateur s Muslim fanatics tribal warlords Sepoys recruited Indian troops including a few fierce Ghurkas all in service to Great Britain countless British Russian soldiers endeavoring to stay alive while far from home engaged in fighting representing the flags of empire in places the names for which they often can barely pronounce In Hopkirk s book the reader also encounters place names that are redolent of adventure geographic uncertainty destinations like the Khyber Pass the Hindu Kush the Pamir Gap Kashgar Khiva Kandahar Kabul the Karakorum Pass and the Taklamakan Desert the name in the Uighur language meaning ou go in but do not come out a place known to swallow up travelers soldiers Buddhist monks merchants occasionally entire caravans The period covered begins in the early 19th century with the Russian Czar seeming to match wits extensive treasury outflows with the British King and ends roughly speaking a century or so later with the realignment of Europe Asia the fall of the Czar the death of the Ottoman Empire and the lessening of British imperial power during the time between the two World WarsPeter Hopkirk began as a British journalist spent considerable time on assignment in far off locales that constituted the Great Game across today s Turkmenistan Uzbekistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan west north into the Caucasus countries Iran landscapes that demanded a sense of adventure with the author gradually becoming fascinated with the locations he was sent to the concept of the Great Game an abiding interest in Kipling s fictional portrayal of that phase of history in his amazing novel Kim There is also mention of John Buchan s now little known novel The Half Hearted detailing this eraThe reader can retrospectively ask why so many How To Think Like A Manager for the CISSP Exam young British Russian men among countless others were fated to die in this grand Asiatic contest but that is an idle speculation at this point the time of imperial destiny may now seem long ago far away but it was for many centuries a pervasive uest harkening back well beyond Great Britain Czarist Russia the Ottoman Empire to the Greeks Romans Mongols Persians among others In Hopkirk s book the struggle seemed an attempt not so much to expand British territory but to defensively protect the Crown Jewel of Empire ie India from Russian incursion most probably with an invasion coming south through Afghanistan Here s is just a sample of Hopkirk s unfolding storyOn January 14 1831 a bearded disheveled figure in native dress wandered out of the desert at an obscure town on British India s NW frontier an area then collectively known as Sind He had been traveling for than aear often exposed to great danger his complexion darkened almost black by months in the sun at times doubting that he d ever return alive He was in fact a The Lady of Larkspur Lotion young British officer in disguise Lieutenant Arthur Conolly of the 6th Bengal Native Light Calvary having somehow survived his mission to reconnoiter the military political no man s land between the Caucasus the Khyber through which a Russian army might march Daring resourceful ambitious Conolly was the archetypical Great Game player it was he fittingly enough who first coined this memorable phrase in a latter to a friend Despite his junior rank tenderears his views were to have a considerable influence on the outcome of the Anglo Russian rivalry in AsiaAccording to Hopkirk Arthur Conolly also had a strongly religious nature and in common with most of his generation believed in the civilizing mission of Christianity in the duty of its adherents to bring the message of salvation to others less fortunate Indeed the author the duty of its adherents to bring the message of salvation to others less fortunate Indeed the author often view those protecting their homelands from intruders as heinous treacherous fanatical but he also sees British leadership as marked by incompetence irresolution plain cowardice as in the case of General William Elphinstone There is a comment about how the British viewed the massacre of its 44th regiment wherein a mob of heathen savages armed with home made weapons had routed the greatest power on earth a devastating blow to British pride prestige One survivor Wm Brydon of 4500 British troops civilians including women children managed to find his way back to the British garrison at JalalabadIt seemed that while both Britain Russia were chastened by their costly adventures in Central Asia neither ever seemed to learn a lesson or to demonstrate the nerve to withdraw from the Great Game At one point when Russia became uiescent after a catastrophic defeat in its attempt to control Khiva in present day Uzbekistan Hopkirk indicates that it proved to be merely half time in The Struggle For Ascendancy struggle for ascendancy Central Asia At this point Persia had entered the fray and took control of Herat in Afghanistan Afghanistan was then as it continues to be political uicksand with much of Asia a vast shadowy chess boardThis is to be sure a rather blood soaked tale with grim betrayals freuent beheadings but also uncommon bravery Hopkirk contends that while the British may have had their Achilles heel in India the Russians had theirs in the Caucasus where the local Muslim tribes were still holding out fiercely against the might of the Czar Across snow capped peaks mountain ranges great deserts the British Russian forces seemed to play a costly deadly game that ultimately ended in a kind of stalemate that came at last with the fall of the Russian Czar However on so very many occasions what some have termed the melting pot of history also became its vast graveyard with oung men from both major Great Game contestants dying while filthy half starved lice ridden so very far from their beloved homesPeter Hopkirk s The Great Game first appeared in 1990 stands as a very interesting well researched book written with a journalist s eye for detail I recommend it as well as another of Hopkirk s books uest For Kim an excellent companion to Kipling s novelImages within review Peter Hopkirk Anglo Indian troops Lt Arthur Conolly in disguise map of Great Game territory British troops fighting in 1st Anglo Afghan War 1842 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 primerI 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 were hell bent on expanding their influence as far as possible But the real joy here is in the Boy s Own adventuring of some of the principal players ambitious explorer spies who headed off the map and into a world of mountain fortresses Himalayan snowstorms Russian ambushes gruelling sieges and daring gunfights At stake was a barely known network of independent city states whose rulers were befriended betrayed and played off one another by the two major powers in an attempt to win influence and ascendancy in the areaIt would take a hard hearted reader not to feel some pangs of awe and excitement at some of the derring do here however much ou are made aware of the cynical political game playing behind it all Hopkirk tells his story engagingly if occasionally dropping into some speculative scene setting As he donned a long uilted coat and black lambskin hat the two men with him watched in silence how do ou know There are narrative problems it covers a long period and the book is necessarily somewhat episodic with rather little of the political background filled in but on the whole the episodes are so extr. Ses and deserts of Central Asia Those engaged in this shadowy struggle called it The Great Game a phrase immortalized in Kipling's Kim. ,

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 our 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 AsiaI found myself reading late into the morning at times I couldn t put the book down Most of the time I had heard of the places and people involved but a lot of this story was new to me The narrative read like a novel gripping but informative never boring and full of information breathing life into history in a way that is hard to find now a days This is a great book and I fully agree with the uote on the front cover of the book by Jan Morris Peter Hopkirk is truly the laureate of the Great Game If Blood Magic Divided Realms you ever wanted to learn something about this large and remote area then this is the book to start with Ifou enjoy military history then this book has it if Hooking Him you enjoy historical accounts of exploration then this book has it ifou just enjoy good history then this book has it allThe story of Britain and Russia carving out their Empires in India Afghanistan and the surrounding areas is truly fascinating and I was amazed at the brave and resourceful men who carved their name in history during this period Most people have heard of the Khyber Pass and places like Chitral however I had never heard of the Pamirs and Karakorams mountain ranges or of the Kerman and Helmund deserts nor of some of the fierce and warlike tribes that lived in these areas After reading this book I Training the Trainer yearn for information about this region and I intend to buy the rest of Peter Hopkirk s books I would rate this book one of the better ones I have read covering this subject period This is a complete enough narrative history of the struggle between Russia and Britain for control of Central Asia So ifou 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 these things inscrutable savage unreliable and in need of civilization Every Russian advance was met with trepidation in Delhi and London and Hopkirk too trembles with rage every time the damned Russians conuer another piece of Asia that rightfully belongs to Britain I was once accused by a professor of writing too much in the style and attitude of my subjects eighteenth century British administrators occasionally using and reflecting favourably their bigoted and elitist views without being aware of it Hopkirk too does this but I doubt it was done innocently A feature of Tory historiography of this sort is that the victories and defeats of empires a century and a half ago are keenly felt that this book was written during the Cold War is painfully obvious from its attitude towards Russia and Russians Though Hopkirk constantly bemoans the Russian advance he doesn t have much to say about Britian s imperial expansion in India the conuest of the Punjab merits a few sentences and the occupation of Afghanistan twice is all heroic matyrdom and armchair generalship with a century of hindsight A uick read but truly disappointing 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 Karsh Portfolio you love Kim by Rudyard Kiplingou 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 ou read it in a Comp Lit class analyzing the colonial discourse and the unforgivable cries of colonialism If that s ou give Kim a chance Written by someone who grew up in Anglo India I think The Gypsy Wisdom Spellbook you ll find it extraordinarily insightful despite the presence of the ponderous and stylistically stilted British Empire But back to the style of the Great Game Peter Hopkirk is a very masterful writer for sure but for this story he manages to write the history in the totally anachronistic rip roarin style thatou find in colonial adventure stories late Victorian colonial adventure Basically it s fun to read in the way that Gunga Din is fun to Plus it incorporates classic spy novel style as history he s trying to relate is in no way compromised by this writing history he s trying to relate is in no way compromised by this writing In fact by using this style he takes an important tack that makes the book really sing By using that Victorian colonial adventure style he gets Life in the Slow Lane Observations on Art Architecture Manners and Other Such Spectator Sports you in the heads of the Brits and Russinas who were in that day reading all of this rip and run super adventure stuff It s really hard to understand the mentality of British soldiers in the late 19th Century or even in WWI without recognizing that all of those guys grew up reading colonial adventure stories which were very much like the Wild West novels of that day Think mid 40sWB cartoons ifou re an American of a certain age They re so out of style now that it s hard for me to provide an example I keep thinking Karl May who was a German writer who wrote all kinds of thrilling Indian Jones type adventures set in locales that were exotic to a European the American Wild West India Africa Arabia cf Lawrence he read them too China and Central Asia Anyway I admire the ability of an author to pull the reader back in to the minds of their protagonists and their contemporaries Plus this style makes the book read like a cheap titillating novel This is one fast read considering the breadth of the workA bit about the content of the book might be useful after all of my bombination on style The Great Game relates the history of the struggle between the British Empire and the Russian Empire over the strongholds of Central Asia Basically this was an imperialist struggle It wasn t a race for oil et The Brits had a ton of colonies the jewel of which was the Raj As the Russians made attempts to grab parts of Central Asia the Brits freaked out over the safety of their sacred cow and engaged in a very entertaining deadly and technical spy game with the Russians to infiltrate and map these unknown regions and try to ingratiate themselves with the local leaders Hopkirk describes this struggle from its nascence in Alexander I s triumph over Napoleon to the decline of Russia after the Russo Japanese War While Russia was intent on expanding its empire into Central Asia Britain was trying very hard to keep India British so they were on full alert to any Russian incursions into Central Asia And they #Were Keeping A Third #keeping a third out for any kingdoms they could snatch up with promises of Victorian infrastructural progress You ll enjoy visualizing manifestations of Victorian progress the steam train the telegraph perhaps the Enfield Gun when ou re reading of the fate of Arthur Conolly repeatedly peripatetically successful in all exploration and espionage sorties a BIG PLAYA in the Game when he wears out the welcome of the Emir of Bukhara or was it ueen Victoria who wore out his welcomeConolly and Stoddart whose plight had been all but forgotten in the wake of the Kabul catastrophe were he reported both dead It had happened he said back in June when Britain s reputation as a power to be feared in Central Asia was at rock bottom Furious at receiving no reply to his personal letter to ueen Victoria and no longer worried by any fear of retribution the Emir of Bokhara had ordered the two Englishmen then enjoying a brief spell of freedom to be seized and thrown back in prison A few days later they had been taken from there with their hands bound and led into the great suare before the Ark or citadel where stood the Emir s palace What followed next the Persian swore he had learned from the Executioner s own lips First while a silent crowd looked on the two British officers were made to dig their own graves Then they were ordered to kneel down and prepare for death Colonel Stoddart after loudly denouncing the tyranny of the Emir was the first to be beheaded Next the executioner turned to Conolly and informed him that the Emir had offered to spare his life if he would renounce Christianity and embrace Islam Aware that Stoddart s forcible conversion had not saved him from imprisonment and death Conolly a devout Christian replied Colonel Stoddart has been a Musselman for three Three Cups of Tea years andou have killed him I will not become one and I am ready to die He then stretched out his neck for the executioner and a moment later his head rolled in the dust with that of his friendThe battle over Central Asia was fought primarily through spies And this is what makes it even thrilling All of this confl. For nearly a century the two most powerful nations on earth Victorian Britain and Tsarist Russia fought a secret war in the lonely pas.

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