Sitzmedia: "Eastward to Tartary," Part 2

Last weekend I finished up Robert D. Kaplan’s book “Eastward to Tartary,” which I mentioned in a post a few days ago. The end was as good as the beginning, and as the book and the author’s journey came to a close, I fantasized about packing my bags to go and see with my own eyes the destruction and squalor left over in the former Soviet republics of southwest Asia.
Which I probably won’t do. But still, it was a good book, and just by reading it so voraciously, I feel a bit smarter.

I bring this up because I came across an interesting quote. As I mentioned in the other post, the book was written in 2000, but Kaplan showed an uncanny ability to predict the changing fortunes of the parts of the world that he visited. Among these instances, I found the following quote from pages 266-267. Hot on the footsteps of the Russian invasion of Georgia, it seems all the more foreboding:

“From what I learned over the next two weeks, I was left with the queasy apprehension that was Vietnam was to the 1960s and 1970s, what Lebanon and Afghanistan were to the 1980s, and what the Balkans were to the 1990s, the Caspian region might be to the first decade of the new century: an explosive region that draws in the Great Powers.”

Obviously, in the time that’s passed since the book was published, the world has witnessed the September 11th attacks, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and ethnic struggles throughout the world, particularly in Africa. Kaplan obviously couldn’t have known that these things would happen, but that still doesn’t discount the prescient statement above. It gave me pause, at least.

In any case, if you’re looking for an erudite examination of a volatile but very important region of the world—especially if you want it to read like a slightly adventurous travelogue written by a man with the combined outlook of a renowned geopolitical journalist and a Lonely Planet guide—then check out this book.

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

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Errand-Running Monkey at Sitzblog
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