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The Modern Uzbeks: From the Fourteenth Century to the Present: A Cultural History (Studies of Nationalities) 1st Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0817987329
ISBN-10: 0817987320
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"An essential work for students of Russia and the Soviet Union."

About the Author

Edward A. Allworth is a Professor of Turco-Soviet Studies, Head of the Center for the Study of Central Asia and the Division of Central Asian Studies, and Director of the Program on Soviet Nationality Problems, all at Columbia University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies of Nationalities
  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Hoover Institution Press; 1 edition (March 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817987320
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817987329
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,402,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is primarily an ethnography that addresses the changing aspects of Uzbek group identity from its emergence in the 15th Century until shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The author necessarily includes some historiographic discussion, but the book cannot simply be described as a straightforward history. There is no attempt to lay out a linear chronology that would be helpful for a beginner or even intermediate-level student.

Accordingly, I give a qualified recommendation for the book. If you have advanced background in Central Asia, and preferably some knowledge of Russian and/or Uzbek, the author's command of his sources is extremely useful. I found his approach to literary sources and intellectual movements as evidence of group identity fascinating and enlightening. Although the material is out of date (it was published in 1990, before the independence of modern Uzbekistan), it has proven prescient in its discussion of charismatic strongmen as a rallying-point for social identification -- for better or for worse. My primary complaint with the scholarship is that too many of the author's assertions that should have been foot-noted are not, making his conclusions untestable. And as Central Asia opens up in the wake of the Soviet collapse, increased access to sources will probably undermine some of Allworth's data.

For a beginner, the book is probably worthless, and possibly unfinishable. The writing is not elegant or easy. The author assumes too much familiarity with historical figures, and with archaic geographical terms (like Bactria, Sogdiana and the Qipchaq plains) which are not defined and which do not appear on modern maps. An undergraduate-level student will find the sources, very few of which are in English, almost totally worthless.
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Format: Paperback
As empires break, new states often emerge. In the last 150 years, the basis for such new states has been mainly nationalism. But in Africa, to take the main example, the colonial powers carved out new entities on the basis of their ability to reach or control African regions. More often than not, they divided peoples and linguistic groups, creating totally artificial nations that ran counter to all traditional polities. What happened in Central Asia in the 1920s was another version of that process. Allworth has written a masterly work on aspects of Central Asian culture and--- though he doesn't often emphasize it---on what exactly can be called "Uzbek" and why. Erudite and full of careful, wide-ranging research, Allworth's book is not an easy read, full of thousands of names, and arcane details of Central Asian history. He traces the arrival of so-called Uzbeks in southern Central Asia to the start of the 15th century. They came from two directions as two separate groups and the designation "Uzbek" may have been an uncomplimentary term used by those whose lands they invaded. The name certainly never appeared in the long history of civilization in the region before that. The "Uzbeks" of that time deposed the Timurids, descendants of the famous Timur (Tamerlane). Allworth does not pursue a political history, but rather a cultural one, writing on such topics as values, religion, leadership, diplomacy, poetry, and education. He follows Central Asian civilization through the decline of the 1600s, a revival in the 1700s, decay in the first half of the 1800s, and then the Russian conquest. All this takes up the first third of the book.Read more ›
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