author: Shareen Blair Brysac
average rating: 3.75
book published: 1999
read at: 2010/01/19
date added: 2010/01/19
shelves: biography, history, non-fiction, politics
I’m vacillating whether to go with 2 or 3 stars — parts of this book were fantastic, great narrative, crazy crazy characters in a vast story. Maybe that’s the problem: the story was a little TOO vast, so there was no single theme that seemed to hold it together, just a chronicle of one thing after another.
I will single out the maps as a particular irritation: the book has lots and lots of locations which are likely to be unfamiliar to the general reader, and the maps were just not good enough to keep track of where all the players were going; neither the inside cover map nor the smaller maps in the text had enough place names. There was much gnashing of teeth every time a place was mentioned, and I flipped to a map, and: nope, not there.
On the other hand, it was interesting to get a slightly different angle on the events in The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia, and to go a little farther forward in time. The combination of the two books gave me a much better understanding of the backstory of Great Game era empire messing around with Afghanistan (et al), which these days is a damn good thing to know.