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The first book by Peter Hopkirk I read was his famous 'the Great Game' on English-Russian rivalry in Central Asia from the early 1800s up to British-Russian reconciliation just before World War One. This one takes off where 'the Great Game left' and deals with what happened in Turkey, the Caucasus, Persia, Afghanistan, India and Central Asia until the end of World War One.
Perhaps the main storyline is about the German attempts to incite muslims living under British and Russian rule against their colonial rulers. This involved infiltrations in Persia (trying to get the Shah to invade British India or joint the Turks in their fight against Russia, but at the very least to tie down more British troops in the Gulf region), and a diplomatic mission via Persia to Afghanistan to convince the Afhgan king to invade British India. As we know now, all of this was way too ambitious and almost nothing was achieved - despite admirable efforts by the small German delegation.
Another even more interesting storyline is on the events in the Caucasus - notably Baku - in the confused time from the November 1917 revolution to the end of WWI. I had never realized that the Turks, having now shed the burden of fighting the Russians, embarked on a final desperate offensive and actually managed to capture Baku just before their own capitulation (reportedly one of the reasons for Allenby's success in Jeruzalem and Damascus was the diversion of Turkey's best troops to the Caucasus). There is also an interesting sideline into Central Asia, where 'Transcaspia' (say Turkmenistan) rose against the Bolsheviks and fought them with limited British assistance.
Hopkirk is a phenomenal writer. I really can't praise this book highly enough. Awesome!
RE-READ AUGUST 2019: re-read this book after some 5 years, and enjoyed it just as much. What a story, what phenomenal writing, what a breathtakingly wide scope (covering the storming of Erzerum to shady arms deals in California, from the Zimmermann telegram (which would likely never have been revealed had the British not captured key German codes in the Persian outback) to the Battle of Baku. Just one critical note: Hopkirk might have talked a bit more about the main reason of Persia's importance to the British, namely the vast supplied of oil near the head of the Persian Gulf - this was in fact a good deal more important than Persia's role as a rather forward 'bulwark' of British India....
An absolutely superb book, packed full of character. It brings to life this little known aspect of WW1 and just after and proves once again that true life can be just as gripping, as well as stranger, than fiction. Hopkirk’s style is crisp and moves the story along at a good pace. Can not recommend this book highly enough.
Read spies on the roof of the world some time ago which is excellent and am following it up with this which seems of the same quality. There have been a couple of Discovery channel programs covering these aspects but not with the detail of this book plus mainly the tv stuck to Turkey/Germany and the Dardanelles so this is much much better. How Mr Hopkirk found time to both do all this writing and the Rallying in Mini and then all accessories beats me but please keep it up.
This is an excellent account of events in the Middle East and Asia prior to, during and soon after WW1. It is an account of the games being played then. Clearly, they did not end satisfactorily for some and are being played again today. Reads like a spy story but these are real events and real characters. The same author has another book on the subject that's also worth reading.
I have never knew anything about this area of the world before reading Peter books its almost unknown and unexplored even today. The Great Game sets the scene our Victorian Forefathers were something else they were awsume I would reccomend all Peters books on this subject he has made it his own Fantastic Brilliant