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Under the banner of a Holy War, masterminded in Berlin and unleashed from Constantinople, the Germans and the Turks set out in 1914 to foment violent revolutionary uprisings against the British in India and the Russians in Central Asia. It was a new and more sinister version of the old Great Game, with world domination as its ultimate aim. Here, told in epic detail and for the first time, is the true story behind John Buchan's classic wartime thriller Greenmantle, recounted through the adventures and misadventures of the secret agents and others who took part in it. It is an ominously topical tale today in view of the continuing turmoil in this volatile region where the Great Game has never really ceased.
Two authors' passion for India and the Great Game
In his examination of the excavation of ancient Assyria by Austen Henry Layard, Shawn Malley reveals how, by whom, and for what reasons the stones of Assyria were deployed during a brief but remarkably intense period of archaeological activity in the mid-nineteenth century. His book encompasses the archaeological practices and representations that originated in Layard's excavations, radiated outward by way of the British Museum and Layard's best-selling "Nineveh and Its Remains" (1849), and were then dispersed into the public domain of popular amusements. That the stones of Assyria resonated in debates far beyond the interests of religious and scientific groups is apparent in the prevalence of poetry, exhibitions, plays, and dioramas inspired by the excavation. Of particular note, correspondence involving high-ranking diplomatic personnel and museum officials demonstrates that the 'treasures' brought home to fill the British Museum served not only as signs of symbolic conquest, but also as covert means for extending Britain's political and economic influence in the Near East. Malley takes up issues of class and influence to show how the middle-class Layard's celebrity status both advanced and threatened aristocratic values. Tellingly, the excavations prompted disturbing questions about the perils of imperial rule that framed discussions of the social and political conditions which brought England to the brink of revolution in 1848 and resurfaced with a vengeance during the Crimean crisis. In the provocative conclusion of this meticulously documented and suggestive book, Malley points toward the striking parallels between the history of Britain's imperial investment in Mesopotamia and the contemporary geopolitical uses and abuses of Assyrian antiquity in post-invasion Iraq.
At the height of the imperial age, European powers ruled over most parts of the Islamic world. The British, French, Russian, and Dutch empires each governed more Muslims than any independent Muslim state. European officials believed Islam to be of great political significance, and were quite cautious when it came to matters of the religious life of their Muslim subjects. In the colonies, they regularly employed Islamic religious leaders and institutions to bolster imperial rule. At the same time, the European presence in Muslim lands was confronted by religious resistance movements and Islamic insurgency. Across the globe, from the West African savanna to the shores of Southeast Asia, Muslim rebels called for holy war against non-Muslim intruders. Islam and the European Empires presents the first comparative account of the engagement of all major European empires with Islam. Bringing together fifteen of the world's leading scholars in the field, the volume explores a wide array of themes, ranging from the accommodation of Islam under imperial rule to Islamic anti-colonial resistance. A truly global history of empire, the volume makes a major contribution not only to our knowledge of the intersection of Islam and imperialism, but also more generally to our understanding of religion and power in the modern world.
The other report is published by the U. S. State Department and is more "committed," but only as far as the national interest of the world's only su perpower is concerned. Therefore, the State Department report must be read while keeping in mind the state of U. S. relations with the countries concerned. This report is accompanied by the so-called "certification" process, whose ar bitrary character has often been stressed. For instance, Iran, a country whose determination to fight the drug transit on its territory is well-known - more than 100 Iranian law enforcement agents die every year as a restult - was removed from the "blacklist" of "decertified countries" in the spring of 1999, precisely as it was inaugurating a policy of opening itself to external influ ence, including that of the United States. In retrospect, this demonstrates that the U. S. government had decertified Iran in past years because it was viewed as an Islamic and terrorist country, not because of its supposed involvement in drug trafficking. Neither does the last State Department report explain why Haji Ayub Afridi, a major Pakistani drug baron, who had voluntarily surrendered to U. S. authorities, returned to Pakistan in 1999 after spending a mere three and a half years in a U. S. prison.
Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2003 Black Garden is the definitive study of how Armenia and Azerbaijan, two southern Soviet republics, got sucked into a conflict that helped bring them to independence, bringing to an end the Soviet Union, and plaguing a region of great strategic importance. It cuts between a careful reconstruction of the history of Nagorny Karabakh conflict since 1988 and on-the-spot reporting on its convoluted aftermath. Part contemporary history, part travel book, part political analysis, the book is based on six months traveling through the south Caucasus, more than 120 original interviews in the region, Moscow, and Washington, and unique primary sources, such as Politburo archives. The historical chapters trace how the conflict lay unresolved in the Soviet era; how Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders exacerbated it; how the Politiburo failed to cope with the crisis; how the war began and ended; how the international community failed to sort out the conflict. What emerges is a complex and subtle portrait of a beautiful and fascinating region, blighted by historical prejudice and conflict.

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