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Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus Paperback – October 23, 2001
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Eastward to Tartary is a fascinating exploration of places Kaplan has not written about in depth before: "Third World Europe" (Romania and Bulgaria), Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and the confusing conglomeration of countries and peoples in the Caucasus. Smart observations leap off almost every page. "In every Arab city I have ever visited, people were polite and honest, running after you to return a loose coin you have left at a soft-drinks stand," he writes. So why hasn't democracy taken hold in the Islamic world? "The very perfection of the Islamic belief system begot a naive absolutism that made the compromises of normal political life impossible." In an aside on ancient Assyria, Kaplan notes, "The theme is always the same: Highly militarized and centralized states and empires, so indomitable in one decade or generation, hack themselves to pieces or are themselves conquered in another." Then he reminds readers that Assyria once bestrode present-day Iraq and Syria--a "hauntingly appropriate" coincidence. And surprising facts abound: "Turkey represents the most stable governmental dynasty in world history, with the Turkish soldiery able to trace the roots of its power to the Roman emperors." Fans of Kaplan's previous books won't want to miss this one, and neither will new readers interested in this part of the world. --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book also leads us to understand that the "democracy at all cost" approach, so much vaunted by the West, is more often than not the wrong way of assisting countries which for decades found themselves under the unforgiving rule of totalitarianism, with no democratic foundations to start with. Failure to grasp this reality leads to a widening gap between the population and the few cronies who, opportunistic as they are, were able to seize the various help packages that were injected (blindly) into the region after the fall of communism (and other forms of totalitarianism, such as the Ottoman Empire). What, Kaplan asks, is the solution, then? Jordan, he argues, is a good place to start.Read more ›
"Eastward to Tartary" is bracing, as have been all of Kaplan's books, and not for the weak of stomach! Whether or not you like what he has to say, you have to admit that Kaplan has vast knowledge and wisdom and cuts right to the chase - no bull. Reading Kaplan, I kept thinking: this guy is the anti-Friedman! No cloying cuteness, no wonders of globalization for Kaplan, and no rhapsodizing over the wonders of shopping malls and McDonalds either. Thank goodness! Instead, Kaplan writes clearly, brutally honestly, without sentimentality, glibness, or cuteness. Kaplan is NOT an optimist, and I mean this as a compliment. Instead, Kaplan is a clear-eyed realist, and, as Michael Ignatieff calls him, a "travel writer from hell" (that's a compliment, too, by the way!Read more ›
Since the portion of this book covering Romania and Bulgaria is meant as a sequel to Kaplan's earlier "Balkan Ghosts," and since some of the other areas covered are also featured in "The Ends of the Earth," this book is slightly weaker than those two masterpieces. Kaplan also occasionally stumbles into cultural arrogance when dealing with non-Western people and politics. However, these are slight weaknesses in a very strong book that offers highly enlightening insights into the history and peoples in areas that Americans should stop ignoring.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus is a documentary-style travelogue in three parts. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Martina A. Nicolls
took me to places that the American education system ignores, to our peril. I'm glad this book was recommended to me.Published 3 months ago by Lady Lee
Events have overturned the period of the book. It's interesting to see how prescient KaplAn was but not sufficiently interesting to justify finishing the book.Published 4 months ago by ecotraveler
As always, Kaplan goes deeper, draws on history and provokes thought about the future. Brings humanity to his subject matter.Published 4 months ago by careful consumer
Kaplan has a gift of geography and geopolitical insight. Every book I have read has been enlightening .Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Kaplan takes us where most have never been or dreamed of going, but these are pivotal states and regions with tons of history. Read morePublished 11 months ago by D. B. Hopkins
I just returned from the Caspian Sea in the region of the Caucusus mountains. Reading Kaplan while traveling in this region is rewarding on many levels. Great book.Published 14 months ago by Lawrence of Stock
this is a great history and journey through the Balkans. very informative and well writtenPublished 19 months ago by Bruce S. Owen
Robert D. Kaplan is a master of old school travel books, walking directly into history and culture and sharing it with you. Read morePublished on December 8, 2013 by Roger Gay