Prof. George Hewitt

Review of Charles van der Leeuw Storm over the Caucasus

Review of Charles van der Leeuw Storm over the Caucasus (Curzon Press, Caucasus World, xi + 212 pages, 1999), in BSOAS

Imagine a journalist being assigned to a country whose very existence for the previous 70 years or so the world has largely ignored. Suddenly, that country and its neighbours emerge from the shadows and make headline-news for  the wars fought on their territories and/or for the mineral resources either on which they  sit or for which they provide a possible transit-route to the West. Eager to find a publisher for his description of these and associated  matters (including potted histories), the journalist rushes a hastily composed manuscript,  marked by many still-to-be-refined broad brush-stroke treatments of incidents and littered with both factual  and technical errors, to a publishing-house in the hope of having it accepted and of receiving advice on necessary improvements. But, through a series of ghastly oversights the manuscript is printed, bound and marketed without any of the  essential corrections being made. Anyone, familiar or not with the recent history of Transcaucasia (for it is primarily  with the republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia  plus Abkhazia that this book is concerned), might well  conclude  that something like the (presumably) fictitious calamity just adumbrated could be the most generous explanation for these 212 pages.

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