Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | September 27, 2010

molly’s cafe: the dust of empire

i love it that so many good books come through my cafe.  the ones i read are on the table and people often pick them up to look at them.  the last one i finished was the dust of empire by karl e. meyer.

the dust of empire

i have read some other books about central asia, particularly ones by peter hopkirk.  however, they were mostly about what was going on in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the time of the great game, as it was called.  this book covers more recent history, though sometimes dips back into that time frame to give more background.  meyer’s chapters include, russia, iran, pakistan, afghanistan, the caucasus, and central asia.

particularly as i read about the shenanigans of england and the u.s. in iran and afghanistan, i found myself gasping, “i didn’t know that!”  it really gives mmore understanding to why those people do not trust americans, british, or russians, as they all tended to have an arrogant attitude to governing, installilng their own people, or generally causing strife.  the taliban, for example, were supported by the u.s. in order to get rid of the russians and still use american weapons.

i think the main thing i got from this book is that most journalists today have a very short sighted view of current history, forgetting that it has been forged from events in the not so distant past.  the western powers have made a mess in the middle east and are messing up central asia.  it’s very scary!

this book is very readable.  meyer writes smoothly and does not get lost in footnotes, though there is a good bibliography in the back.  i wish he had added a few more illustrations, but in general it was an excellent read.  i am sure there will be no dust on the dust of empire!

two notes:  as i search for photos of these various books, i notice that they have different covers according to the markets they are in.  interesting.

the other note is that in the u.s often job applications have an optional part for race.  the one for whites is usually caucasian.  why is that?!  years ago i had a russian student from kazakhstan who was emphatic about not being caucasian and now i understand more why.


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