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Mission to Tashkent Paperback – November 28, 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
What Mission to Tashkent is, is a factual account of the Russian Revolution, as played out in Central Asia, where the Bolshevik Russian minority based mainly in Tashkent (now in the independant sate of Uzbekistan) had to overcome White Russian, Moslem and British forces to establish the revolution on Central Asia (the British eventually withdrew, not wanting to become too involved).
In this book, F.M. Bailey, whose previous adventures had involved accompanying Francis E. Younghusband to Tibet in 1904 (on account of the fact he could speak Tibetan), details his journey from India via Kashgar to Tashkent. Once in Tashkent, the book covers the writer's life there, under constant fear of arrest or execution at the hands of the local Bolshevik Provisional Government. His official purpose was as a diplomatic representative for the British in Central Asia, which created much danger for himself, due to the presence of British forces at Ashgabad in Turkmenistan. He also gathered information for the British as to what exactly was happening there, due to concerns that the large number of German and Austrian prisoners of war held in Central Asia could be used to attack British India, if organised into a fighting force by German agents known to operate in Iran and Afghanistan - it was 1917/1918 and Britian was still fighting Germany.Read more ›
One of the highest ranking pieces in the Great Game was the British intelligent agent Lieut-Col Frederick M. Bailey, who wrote this fascinating book. So if you're a great intelligence agent, why is it so difficult to write a good book? Simple: A good intelligence agent keeps too much unsaid. Information is his stock in trade, so he is very sparing of all the interesting details.
Picture present-day Uzbekistan in the first year of the Bolshevik takeover (1918). No one in Europe had any idea of what to expect from the Bolsheviks. Would they become more moderate in time? Would the Muslim population accept them? Would the White Russians defeat them in battle and restore the Czar?
In the midst of all these swirling theories strode the skinny and extremely canny Colonel Bailey. He set himself up in Tashkent as the official representative of His Majesty's Government but immediately ran into roadblocks. Without informing Bailey, Britain had in the meantime engaged the Bolsheviks in battle near Murmansk and near the Caucasus. That quickly made Bailey persona non grata (which meant ripe for execution in those times).
But how does one arrest a wizard? Bailey immediately went underground and assumed the identity of a Romanian, Czech, Austrian, Albanian, or other POW, of which Tashkent had many from those WW 1 days.Read more ›
The exploits of Colonel Bailey show that the kind of military man that we read of in Rider Haggard and John Buchan's novels really did exist. He would not have been out of place joining an Indiana Jones expedition. He really was an Edwardian action man writ large - bold, resourceful, uncomplaining and considerate of those endangered by his presence.
He is almost a caricature of the quintessentially British officer muddling through to triumph. He comes across as a talented amateur jack-of-all-trades - no James Bond he! He was a fair linguist but, as luck would have it, only had a smattering or no knowledge of the languages of the nationals he pretended to be: Serbs, Austrians, Romanians etc.
He certainly comes across as fearless. On one occasion he nonchalently reads a copy of The Times that he has "borrowed" from a Bolshevik officer in the room next door who had been sent to hunt for him. English sang froid is much in evidence as he casually mentions the executions of numerous people with whom he had been in close association. This guy had more lives than a dozen cats.
The book very much brings alive the chaos and casual brutality of the early days of the Bolshevik revolution in Turkestan. Somehow Bailey slips through it all, constantly striving to get intelligence out to Britain.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A surprisingly good account of the author's time in Soviet Turkestan from 1918-1919. He was a British secret agent. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jayfred
TASHKENT IS NOW THE CAPITAL OF UZBEKISTAN,A REPUBLIC LOCATED IN CENTRAL ASIA WHERE THE ARAL SEA IS.
UZBEKISTAN USED TO BE A REPUBLIC OF THE FORMER SOVIET UNION. Read more
COL F.L. Bailey is one of the true heroes of 'The Great Game,' (which continues as only the names of the players have been changed. Read morePublished on September 6, 2009 by C. Dempster
This book reads as though it were one of John Buchan's more memorable thrillers -- except that it is true! COL F. M. Read morePublished on March 24, 2007 by C. Dempster
The British really had it together. At the end of WWI with revolution all over Central Asia (and a lot of other parts of the world), the collapse of monarchies, and civil strife in... Read morePublished on June 20, 2005 by Rodney J. Szasz