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.
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"
Copyright © 2001 Robert D. Kaplan.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents
|Part I||The Balkans|
|1.||Rudolf Fischer, Cosmopolitan||3|
|3.||The Widening Chasm||18|
|4.||Third World Europe||29|
|8.||Wrestlers Versus Democrats||68|
|9.||The Legacy of Orthodoxy||78|
|10.||"To the City"||85|
|Part II||Turkey and Greater Syria|
|11.||The "Deep State"||93|
|12.||The "Corpse in Armour"||104|
|13.||The New Caliphate||115|
|14.||The Sacred and the Profane||126|
|15.||The Corporate Satellite||147|
|16.||The Caravan State||170|
|17.||Crossing the Jordan||184|
|18.||Sepphoris and the Renewal of Judaism||195|
|19.||Throbbing Heart of the Middle East||201|
|Part III||The Caucasus and Tartary|
|20.||To Turkey's Northeastern Border||213|
|21.||Stalin's Beautiful Homeland||220|
|23.||From Tbilisi to Baku||256|
|25.||By Boat to Tartary||282|
|27.||A Herodotean Landscape||303|
|28||Earth, Fire, Water||311|
What People are Saying About This
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
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
"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."
"A graceful writer... Providing historical (and cultural and religious) context is what Kaplan does best."
Los Angeles Times
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.
a great regional comparison of police states and dictatorships, then and now.
Fascinating! Launched my interest in Central Asia and the Balkans and made me want to read books again. Kaplan is among my favorite authors.
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'.
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.
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.