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From Whitehall to the Caspian by Fitzstephen…
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From Whitehall to the Caspian

by Fitzstephen John Featherston French

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113,689,591 (3.5)None
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Books documenting the British attempt to secure the Caucasus in WWI are few and far between. Dunsterforce, which moved up from Mesopotamia into that region before the war ended, and ultimately withdrew is one of the more widely understood actions during this time frame. However, following Dunsterforce's disbandment, "Norperforce" was quickly assembled as a follow on action, to secure the Caspian seas, and bring a semblance of order to Baku and as a consequence, the Caucasus. Lt Col French's book documents this action. One does not get a very clear idea of what exactly French's role was (it appears as a possible political/diplomatic intermediary attached to the force?) Nonetheless, French writes about the assembly of a naval "armada" amidst hostile populations, primarily the Bolsheviks that still had not secured southern Russia, the Caucusus and Turkmenistan at this time.
Lots of interesting insights into the loose partnership with the White Russians, who still had some of their troops at their disposal. Likewise, good discussions on the intrigues of factions still loyal to Turkey; the enduring rivalries between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis; and how this limited action managed to achieve a modicum of success. Of note, this book made it to print prior to Dunsterville's account of his own mission to the area.
3.5 stars since it covers a fairly arcane facet of WWI and its immediate aftermath. However, French's digressions into the local histories is more of distraction. ( )
  pjlambert | Nov 29, 2013 |
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