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Central Asia saturation, with a Balkan detour
on April 20, 2017
Peter Hopkirk's books on Central Asia are very good. Begin with The Great Game, go on to On Secret Service East of Constantinople, and follow with Setting the East Ablaze. Hopkirk was apparently inspired by Fitzroy MacLean's Eastern Approaches, to do much research and write his own books set in Central Asia. MacLean, after his diplomatic service in Moscow, with accompanying forays into 'Central Asia,' went to join The Phantom Major (David Stirling) in North Africa, before being sent by Churchill to 'Yugoslavia' to discover which resistance group was the strongest, and the one most likely to help drive the Germans and Italians out of the Balkans -- this group, then, Britain would send supplies to. MacLean and Churchill recognized that they would be choosing to help a Communist resistance group (The Partisans), and that there would be 'problems' related to the choice at the end of the war. [Read Nikolai Tolstoy's books The Minister and the Massacres and The Secret Betrayal: 1944-1947. Also, Nicholas Bethell's The Last Secret.] For fans of John Buchan's novels, Hopkirk says that On Secret Service East of Constantinople is the "true story" which lies behind Buchan's novel Greenmantle. Readers of On Secret Service East of Constantinople may want to read next, The Spy Who Disappeared, by Reginald Teague-Jones...along with Hopkirk's Setting the East Ablaze. These writers give a reader so many "ends of golden strings," that to follow them all, would take many months, and the reading of a good many books! Hopkirk is a good writer, whatever he is writing about.