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Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through…

Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War

by Thomas de Waal

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The dispute over Nagorno Karabakh is a complicated issue between Armenia and Azerbaijan. What de Waal has done here is present a neutral account of the war, without favouring either side, a rarity in conflicts like this. He presents clear facts for both sides, while stressing the humanitarian issues at stake, namely the hundreds of thousands of refugees on both sides who are victims of the decades long conflict. Its a great read, and is quite detailed in explaining the origins of the conflict, possibly the best English-language source on the subject. ( )
  kaiser_matias | Jul 7, 2014 |

This is a really good book. Even if you don't have a professional interest in the Nagorno-Karabakh question (and let's face it, not a lot of people do), I think the studies of how a historical dispute over a very small patch of land destroyed two countries and helped to destroy the Soviet Union are of worldwide, human interest. The narrative of the conflict is interspersed with either interviews with today's survivors or historical reflections on how we got there.

The first few chapters are also particularly interesting because of the light they throw on Gorbachev, especially from research in the Politburo archives. In a week when we have all been debating the extent to which Ronald Reagan deserves any credit at all, I found this September 1988 exchange between the General Secretary and the hapless official in charge of preventing the conflict illustrative of the fantasy world in which the leadership of the other superpower lived:

[Gorbachev] rang and said:"... Tell them that if they don't stop this, we will expel them from the Party!" I said, "Mikhail Sergeyevich, they've already trampled on their party cards. The members of the committee are all the organisers of these demonstrations!... What Party methods are you talking about?"

Two years later, of course, the Soviet Union suddenly collapsed completely. This was one of the few warning signs. (Also the August 1990 coup attempt in Moscow had a direct effect on the outcome of the war.)

The interesting human story is what happens to people who used to live in a society that has been destroyed. The chapters about the massacre in Sumgait in early 1988, and about the children of Azerbaijan's 750,000 refugees, are particularly vivid. ( )
  nwhyte | Jan 6, 2007 |
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Wikipedia in English (79)

1995 Azerbaijani coup d'état attempt

23rd Guards Motor Rifle Division

Anti-Armenian sentiment in Azerbaijan

Anti-Azerbaijani sentiment in Armenia

Architecture of Baku

Arkady Volsky

Genrikh Poghosyan

Ghazanchetsots Cathedral

Gurgen Dalibaltayan

History of Azerbaijan

History of Nagorno-Karabakh

History of the Caucasus

Operation Ring

Prime Minister of Azerbaijan

Principality of Khachen

Qarabulaq, Goygol

Robert H. Hewsen

Serzh Sargsyan

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0814719457, Paperback)

Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2003

Black Garden is the definitive study of how Armenia and Azerbaijan, two southern Soviet republics, got sucked into a conflict that helped bring them to independence, bringing to an end the Soviet Union, and plaguing a region of great strategic importance. It cuts between a careful reconstruction of the history of Nagorny Karabakh conflict since 1988 and on-the-spot reporting on its convoluted aftermath.

Part contemporary history, part travel book, part political analysis, the book is based on six months traveling through the south Caucasus, more than 120 original interviews in the region, Moscow, and Washington, and unique primary sources, such as Politburo archives.

The historical chapters trace how the conflict lay unresolved in the Soviet era; how Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders exacerbated it; how the Politiburo failed to cope with the crisis; how the war began and ended; how the international community failed to sort out the conflict.

What emerges is a complex and subtle portrait of a beautiful and fascinating region, blighted by historical prejudice and conflict.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:31 -0400)

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