On Secret Service East of Constantinople: The Plot to Bring Down the British Empire (Anglais) Broché – 27 mars 2006
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Description du produit
Revue de presse
'Tells with great fluency, authority and narrative skill . . . a story which no single book has told before' (Sunday Telegraph)
Présentation de l'éditeur
Under the banner of a Holy War, masterminded in Berlin and unleashed from Constantinople, the Germans and the Turks set out in 1914 to foment violent revolutionary uprisings against the British in India and the Russians in Central Asia. It was a new and more sinister version of the old Great Game, with world domination as its ultimate aim.
Here, told in epic detail and for the first time, is the true story behind John Buchan's classic wartime thriller Greenmantle, recounted through the adventures and misadventures of the secret agents and others who took part in it. It is an ominously topical tale today in view of the continuing turmoil in this volatile region where the Great Game has never really ceased.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
All of Hopkirk's books are either directly, or indirectly related to "The Great Game". For those that don't know, this is a loosely defined period spanning the 19th century to the early 20th. To give a very brief explanation, it is the overt and covert actions taken by the British to keep India stable against the encroaching Imperial Russians. Even the book Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet (Kodansha Globe) makes reference to some of the people who participated in these events.
The beginning of the book deals with the efforts of WWI Germany to sway Muslim populations into holy war versus the British and Russians. Obviously the alliance between the Germans and the last remnants of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) is covered. There are many things that Hopkirk asserts that I was unaware of including the desire of the Germans to build the "Baghdad Express": a direct rail line through Turkey to the Middle East. The Kaiser visiting the Middle East to much pomp and pageantry. Also covered are several missions to destabilize India including the attempt to sway the Afghans into Jihad. It is the classic "Great Game" being played by a new element, and Hopkirk does his typical masterful job describing the events.
I have to admit though, the initial German parts of the story just did not fascinate me all that much. After reading the author's other works, his foreshadowing of events more or less gave away what was coming. The second half of the book made up for this however.
The last part of the book deals with the Caucuses, a region I find fascinating. Within the last year I read Shattering Empires: The Clash and Collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires 1908-1918 and very much enjoyed it. This book deals with the same material, only from the perspective of the British instead of the Ottomans. Hopkirk also draws from Setting the East Ablaze: Lenin's Dream of an Empire in Asia and references several events that are explained in detail in that book. Some things I found absolutely fascinating:
* The various governments that appeared in the Caucuses during the revolution period.
* The fate of Stepan Shaumian and the 26 Commissars.
* Dunsterforce attempting to defend Baku from the Army of Islam.
Of course Mr. Hopkirk delves deeply into some of the players on the British side and recaptures some of the magic from his previous books doing so. Eventually the book focuses on Teague-Jones, a man who literally disappeared after the events covered in this book. The conclusion being that Mr. Teague-Jones died in anonymity; the last player of "The Great Game".
I would recommend this book, though I must say that I am glad I read this book as the last of the series. Some people will really enjoy the beginning of the book. I thought it dragged a little due to the fact that besides the commonality of the German effort, the storyline seems disparate. So to me this book feels like two books. I enjoyed the second half very much. But besides the omnipresence of the German threat, the British effort in the Caucuses is the focus. In some ways it feels like Peter Hopkirk was trying to wrap up the loose ends of "The Great Game".