PETER HOPKIRK is the author of Like Hidden Fire- The Plot to Bring Down the British Empire, Trespassers on the Roof of the World- The Race for Lhasa, and two other books. A staff writer for The Times of London for nineteen years, five as its chief reporter, he is a Middle and Far East specialist.
Half-mad Russian czar Paul I dispatched an invasion force to India in 1801. It was hastily recalled upon his assassination. But 70 years later a succession of ambitious czars had crushed the Muslim peoples of Central Asia, and confident St. Petersburg again cast a covetous eye southward on India. Fearing a Russian invasion, the British rulers of India sent English spies disguised as holy men to find out what the Russians were up to. In 1880, after bloody fighting, the British eradicated Russian influence in Afghanistan and established a buffer state. The Great Game, as the Anglo-Russian struggle in Central Asia was called, unfolds in Hopkirk's ( Setting the East Ablaze ) intricate narrative as an incredible tale of high adventure and political intrigue, conveyed here through the exploits of Cossacks, Muslim guerrillas, courageous travelers, spies, mapmakers and soldiers. The Great Game ended in 1907 with an Anglo-Russian pact, but as Hopkirk notes in a foreword, a new imperialist rivalry is underway in Central Asia, pitting the U.S. against Russia, Turkey, China and Iran. Photos. (Sept.)
Written with engrossing flair... Hopkirk tells the story well, playing up the romance and glamour while never losing sight of the overarching historical picture."--Andrew Leonard, San Francisco Chronicle
"Those who enjoy vividly told tales of derring-do and seek a clear understanding of the history of the emerging central Asian countries will find this a glorious book." --Byron Farwell, The New York Times Book Review