20 September 2007

The Great Game

Yes, I finally gave in and read Peter Hopkirk's book after being told for years that I simply had to read it. I had avoided it for one very simple reason- I'm not particularly interested in imperial and colonial histories, especially when the local people are almost totally ignored. So I didn't care to read about Russian and British maneuverings over a couple of centuries in Central Asia.

And yes, the local populations are ignored in The Great Game in just about every way (unless it's about a treacherous Oriental). It's all about the British and the Russians with a few Indians who fought on the British side. It's also told much more from the British point of view and not particularly balanced, although the book was written at about the time of the breakup of the USSR and there wasn't much access to a reliable version of the Russian point of view.

And despite all this, I rather liked the book, especially the second half. Hopkirk tells the stories well. I was interested in what went on. I particularly liked sorting out how various borders were delimited, but I like borders.

I even recommend it. (Only to Central Asia types though. Who else is really likely to read over 500 pages of Central Asian history for fun?) A concise version of the Great Game would be good though. Maybe I'll check it out again and put together a one-page outline of the major players because I've never been able to remember who went where when and reading this book once didn't cure me.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! I support the one-page outline idea. That would be great.