Chapter 2 gives some necessary historical background, focussing in particular on what's called "The Great Game". It's a necessarily brief chapter, though (100 years in about 8 pages), and I'm interested to learn more about this period of history. I've seen a few recent books on the Great Game -- if this discussion turns out well, maybe we consider backtracking in a future quarterly discussion.
As an aside, the discussion of the strategic importance of Constantinople plays into some reading that I've been doing recently on other topics. Norman Cantor talks about the importance of Byzantium in keeping the Christian West and the Muslim East at arms length. And the importance of topography as a strategic feature has been part of the background of the books on Yugoslavia that I've been reading lately. It's a setting that has played a huge part in the history of Western civilization, and it strikes me that even well-educated or auto-didactic people like our group tend to know very little about it.