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The Great Game

#28: July - Sept. 2006 (Non-Fiction)
MadArchitect

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The Great Game

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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.
J Seabolt

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The Great Game refers to the cold-war-like struggle between Britain and Russia in the 19th and early 20th century over control of the regions bordering on British controled India which also effected surrounding areas. I just finished Part Two of the book and it looks as if Fromkin is making the case that the post-Ottoman restructuring of the Middle-East owes its form in part to continuing British fears of Russian encroachment in the region. I noticed in the bibliography that Fromkin wrote a Foreign Affairs article in 1980 titled "The Great Game in Asia" so the author has some interest in the subject beyond this book.This is an important part of the book and makes a good topic for a thread.
JulianTheApostate
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Re: The Great Game

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While I haven't read any books about the Great Game exclusively, I have a couple of suggestions regarding the Ottoman Empire.Lord Kinross's The Ottoman Centuries is a good readable account, though it's somewhat out of date. At some point I'll probably read Caroline Finkel's Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire, which was published a few months ago. Edited by: JulianTheApostate at: 7/1/06 6:30 pm
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riverc0il
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Re: The Great Game

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I found it interesting and ironic that Britains instegation in the area to prevent Russia from getting a foot hold touched off Russia's drive to their own "manifest destiny" of sorts in the south and east. The way Fromkin writes one particular paragraph in Chapter Two, it suggests the conflict between Britain and Russia might have either been avoided or delayed if Britain had not been so eager to get involved. Britain also seems to have set a president of getting involved with countries to 'one up' Russia and prevent their expansion... the US of course became heavily involved with this in several questionable activities to prop up illegitiment and offensive regimes to deter Russia during the Cold War. Although not covered in the scope of this book, we can certainly foresee shadows and hints of providing arms to certain Middle East groups in the mid-to-late-twentieth century.
MadArchitect

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Good points, river. One of the ideas that's really starting to take hold for me is that one of the driving motivations behind political maneuvers like these is fear, bordering at times on paranoia. Britain realizes what Russia could do if it took control of a particular region, so they make a pre-emptive move to avoid being hemmed in by them. Whether or not Russia saw the strategic value that Britain saw is immaterial -- it's the fear that such an insight provides which actually motivates the activity.
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Loricat
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Re: The Great Game

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I obviously don't read enough history...the only reference to the Great Game I've ever really come across was in the novel Kim by Rudyard Kipling (one of my favourite books). I assumed that fanciful name was Kim's way of refering to the political intrigues he becomes wrapped up in. I am quite pleased to find it was the term in actual use. So much more...intriguing than 'Cold War'. "All beings are the owners of their deeds, the heirs to their deeds." Loricat's Book NookCelebrating the Absurd
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