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Item #: BK1046-940
TOURNAMENT OF SHADOWS: THE RACE FOR EMPIRE IN CENTRAL ASIA Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac 1999 1st ed New Hardcover DJ
By Meyer, Karl and Shareen Brysac
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Washington DC, 1999, 1st edition. 320 pp, b/w photos. New Hardcover with dust jacket

Two experts examine the Great Game and the struggle between powers for control of Central Asia, from the 1830's to the present day. Equal parts geopolitical intrigue and quest for Shangri-la, the Great Game was the imperialist duel for influence in Central Asia that occupied the best and the brightest of the Russian and British empires through the entire 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.

In this detailed narrative from Meyer (former London bureau chief for the Washington Post) and Brysac (a producer for CBS News), the story of the Great Game is told from the perspective of the explorers, soldiers and archaeologists (many of whom frequently doubled as spies) who planted their nations' flags in the steppes and mountain passes of Afghanistan, Turkestan and Tibet.

Among the colorful characters portrayed are William Moorcroft, the East India Company stable master who trekked to fabled Bokhara to purchase horses for the British cavalry, and SS officer Ernst Schafer, who led a German expedition to Tibet in search of a lost Aryan homeland. Notably missing is the viewpoint of the native inhabitants, though Meyer and Brysac do express admiration for the 'pundits,' the Indian explorers immortalized in Kipling's imperialist epic, Kim, who surveyed regions where Europeans feared to tread.

A passing familiarity with Central Asian history would serve readers well, but even those who don't know a Gurkha from a yurt will get the gist. An impressive feat of historical synthesis that draws on sources ranging from published biographies to secret memos buried in the archives of the East India Company, this rousing history is written with some of the elan exhibited by the most stylish participants in the Great Game itself.

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