Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus

Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus

by Robert D. Kaplan


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Eastward to Tartary, Robert Kaplan's first book to focus on a single region since his bestselling Balkan Ghosts, introduces readers to an explosive and little-known part of the world destined to become a tinderbox of the future.

Kaplan takes us on a spellbinding journey into the heart of a volatile region, stretching from Hungary and Romania to the far shores of the oil-rich Caspian Sea. Through dramatic stories of unforgettable characters, Kaplan illuminates the tragic history of this unstable area that he describes as the new fault line between East and West. He ventures from Turkey, Syria, and Israel to the turbulent countries of the Caucasus, from the newly rich city of Baku to the deserts of Turkmenistan and the killing fields of Armenia. The result is must reading for anyone concerned about the state of our world in the decades to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375705762
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/23/2001
Series: Vintage Departures Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 435,886
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.95(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Robert D. Kaplan is the bestselling author of sixteen books on foreign affairs and travel translated into many languages, including Asia’s Cauldron, The Revenge of Geography, Monsoon, The Coming Anarchy, and Balkan Ghosts. He is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a contributing editor at The Atlantic, where his work has appeared for three decades. He was chief geopolitical analyst at Stratfor, a visiting professor at the United States Naval Academy, and a member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board. Foreign Policy magazine has twice named him one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers.

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Excerpted from "Eastward to Tartary"
by .
Copyright © 2001 Robert D. Kaplan.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Author's Notexiii
Part IThe Balkans
1.Rudolf Fischer, Cosmopolitan3
2.Heading East12
3.The Widening Chasm18
4.Third World Europe29
5.Balkan Realists39
6.Pivot State49
7."Civilizational Choice"58
8.Wrestlers Versus Democrats68
9.The Legacy of Orthodoxy78
10."To the City"85
Part IITurkey and Greater Syria
11.The "Deep State"93
12.The "Corpse in Armour"104
13.The New Caliphate115
14.The Sacred and the Profane126
15.The Corporate Satellite147
16.The Caravan State170
17.Crossing the Jordan184
18.Sepphoris and the Renewal of Judaism195
19.Throbbing Heart of the Middle East201
Part IIIThe Caucasus and Tartary
20.To Turkey's Northeastern Border213
21.Stalin's Beautiful Homeland220
22.Fossil Nations243
23.From Tbilisi to Baku256
24.Imperial Collisions265
25.By Boat to Tartary282
26.New Khanates286
27.A Herodotean Landscape303
Epilogue: Hayastan
28Earth, Fire, Water311

What People are Saying About This

Jane Fletcher Geniesse

Writing in the glorious tradition of great Western travelers to the East in the last 150 years, Robert Kaplan belongs in the company of giants like Sir Richard Burton, Charles Montagu Doughty, and Dame Freya Stark. He is a national resource. Traveler, political observer, historian, modern-day Marco Polo, he reports with a novelist's flair on the Gordian knots of the future.
—author of Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark

David Landes

Kaplan is one of the two or three top travel writers of our day. He chooses important places (not merely pretty); he studies up on history, geography, and societies; and he tells wonderful stories about people. I'm a great believer in the power of anecdote, and Kaplan is a master of anecdote—not simply to entertain but to instruct. Even when I disagree, I come away wiser.
—author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations

From the Publisher

"Erudite and intrepid... [Kaplan] is a deft guide to wherever he chooses to lead you."
The New York Times Book Review

"Packed with provocative insights."
Washington Monthly

"A graceful writer... Providing historical (and cultural and religious) context is what Kaplan does best."
Los Angeles Times

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Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
dickcraig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book a lot. Kaplan's writing is best when he travels across territories and compares one with the others. This book is a lot like Ryszard Kapuscinski's writing.
curiousblue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best reads I've had i a while, and I've had some good ones. This book has really changed my thinking about many things: the downside when tyrannical empires end (Kaplan looks hard at the Soviet Union), the strange bedfellows of frontier politics (Israeli and Iranian oilmen in Central Asia), the role of the West, if any, in stabilizing the Balkans, the Near East, and Central Asia before it's too late (Iraq, maybe?), and the frequency with which good intentions cause horrific catastrophe, while bad intentions sometimes bring about a great gift to a neglected part of the world. I guess I'm not an anarchist any more, but if I was, Kaplan's work could have talked me out of it.
benjaminorbach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a great regional comparison of police states and dictatorships, then and now.
ORFisHome on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fascinating! Launched my interest in Central Asia and the Balkans and made me want to read books again. Kaplan is among my favorite authors.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Robert Kaplan is a great writer: eloquent, gracious, pithy - a perfect product of the soundbite generation. Rebecca West meets MTV and spin doctoring. No travelogue of his covers less than 10 countries or 3 continents in more than a few weeks. His vision is sweeping, his generalizations no less so, his observations, alas, less than accurate. I cannot say much about Central Asia - but after 10 years in the Balkan as both political dissident and advisor to governments, I feel that I am qualified to remark on the (lack of) penetration of his 'insights'. Precisely the qualities his reviewers (and the 'intellectuals' that occupy the White House and Congress) find so appealing are his Achilles hill. No one - not even Robert Kaplan - can write with authority on any locale in this complicated world - without having lived there, without speaking the language, without having witnessed the events. Half-baked geopolitical 'erudition' combines with haughty judgements and lopsided 'theories' - Kaplan's books go a long way towards explaining the resentment that 'natives' all over the world feel for America: ignorant, aggressive, meddlesome, narcissistic, and subject to pendular mood swings between saccharine malignant optimism and brutal pessimism. So, why 4 stars? Because it is important to read Kaplan. And why is that? Because he IS influential and he happens to influence the only superpower left. Thus, he helps to shape the very world he observes. And he IS the new ugly American - the roving, know-it-all, dewrring-do, Mr. Fix-it, instant intellectual. It is important to observe him as an anthropological phenomenon - the embodiment of what passes in America for culture. Alas, Mr. Kaplan only collects the royalties - the subjects of his tomes pay the price of the misguided patchwork policies sometimes inspired by them. Sam Vaknin, author of 'After the Rain - How the West Lost the East'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Kaplan covers a lot of territory but it all comes together nicely. He has an amazing number of contacts throughout the region and is able to offer a glimpse of each country from all layers of its society. I look forward to reading his Balkan Ghosts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed Balkan Ghosts, and also enjoyed 'Eastward to Tartary', but I'll have to admit, the latter is a bit disappointing. However, still in my estimation it's a book worth reading. In my opinion, Mr. Kaplan covered so many countries in this latest book that the ultimate result was a somewhat weak synopsis of each country visited. Although it was interesting to see a follow-up to some of the countries in Balkan Ghosts, I would have much preferred to see a more in-depth analysis of Turkey, the Caucasus and Central Asian republics and not have had such a touch-and-go analysis of the current Balkans. The coverage of Syria, Israel, etc. seemed rushed and almost unrelated to the rest of the book. Finally, what was included about each country was lacking the captivating history and background that made Balkan Ghosts such a great work. Also, Mr. Kaplan's clean, untainted writing style shines through in this book. If you enjoyed Balkan Ghosts, I think you should give this a try.