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SRAS NEWS  / 7 BOOKS FOR WINTER READING
14.12.2010


7 Books for Winter Reading
On the Caucasus, History, Fiction, and More

The following are a handful of books that have recently come to our attention. Most have been recently published or updated and provide a wide range of interesting material.

The Caucasus: An Introduction
The South Caucasus--Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, and their many smaller regions, enclaves, and breakaway entities--is a fascinating and distinct world unto itself. Providing both historical background and an insightful analysis of the period after 1991, de Waal sheds light on how the region has been scarred by the tumultuous scramble for independence and the three major conflicts that broke out with the end of the Soviet Union--Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. The book examines the region as a major energy producer and exporter; offers a compelling account of the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the rise of Mikheil Saakashvili, and the August 2008 war; and considers the failure of the South Caucasus, thus far, to become a single viable region. In addition, the book features a dozen or so "boxes" which provide brief snapshots of such fascinating side topics as the Kurds, Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, the promotion of the region as the "Soviet Florida," and the most famous of all Georgians, Stalin. - Amazon.com

 

Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus
How much do you want or need to understand about a far-off place of which we know little? More than you would think, to judge by the enthusiasm of Oliver Bullough, who brings us exciting news, presented as short, gripping stories that tell of the terrible things that happen to people caught up in constant warfare, who have long struggled for survival and suffered not only diaspora but enforced deportation. The history of their resistance and resilience has been largely unknown for two centuries. Now their stories are sung by a champion and will resound beyond their boundaries. - The Times (UK)

To Kill a Tsar
To Kill a Tsar is a gripping thriller set in a world of brutal contrasts in which treachery is everywhere and nothing is what it seems. While Tsar Alexander II remains a virtual prisoner in his own palaces, his ruthless secret police will stop at nothing to unmask those who plot his assassination and the overthrow of the Imperial regime. For Dr Frederick Hadfield, whose medical practice is dependent on the Anglo-Russian gentry, these are dangerous times. Drawn into a desperate cat-and-mouse game of undercover assignations, plot and counter-plot, he risks all in a perilous double life. - Amazon.com

The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin
Joseph Stalin's reign of terror in the Soviet Union has been called "the other holocaust." Over the course of 24 years, more innocent men, women, and children perished than died in Hitler's murder of European Jews. This book originated 30 years ago when Stephen F. Cohen, a professor of Russian studies and history at New York University, first began researching the lives of those victims released after Stalin's death. There was precious little information available, and many of the victims were still afraid, but Cohen persisted, and through the years accumulated the remarkable stories of their return to society. - Amazon.com

Memoir of a Gulag Actress
In an abridged translation that retains the grace and passion of the original, Klots and Ufberg present the stunning memoir of a young woman who became an actress in the Gulag. Tamara Petkevich had a relatively privileged childhood in the beautiful, impoverished Petrograd of the Soviet regime’s early years, but when her father—a fervent believer in the Communist ideal-was arrested, 17-year- old Tamara was branded a “daughter of the enemy of the people.” - groupsrv.com

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
The story of World War II, like that of most wars, usually gets told by the victors. Diplomatic and military accounts are set largely in the West and star the morally upright Allies—the U.S., Britain and Soviet Union—in battles against fascism. The Holocaust gets its own separate history, as a case apart in its genocidal intent and human tragedy. Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin forces a dramatic shift in these perceptions…. Among his other goals in Bloodlands, Mr. Snyder attempts to put the Holocaust in context—to restore it, in a sense, to the history of the wider European conflict. This is a task that no historian can attempt without risking controversy. Yet far from minimizing Jewish suffering, Bloodlands gives a fuller picture of the Nazi killing machine. - Wall Street Journal

No Precedent, No Plan: Inside Russia's 1998 Default
In 1998, President Boris Yeltsin’s government defaulted on its domestic debt and Russia experienced a financial meltdown that brought it to the brink of disaster. In No Precedent, No Plan, Martin Gilman offers an insider’s view of Russia’s financial crisis. As the International Monetary Fund’s senior person in Moscow, Gilman was in the eye of the storm. Russia’s policy response to the economic collapse stemming from the disintegration of the Soviet Union was chaotic. Fiscal deficits loomed in anticipation of future budget revenue that never seemed to materialize—despite repeated promises to the IMF. The rapid buildup of sovereign debt would have challenged even a competent government. In the new Russia, with its barely functioning government and no consensus on the path toward democratic and economic transformation, domestic politics trumped economic common sense. - Amazon

 


 

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