Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War / Edition 1

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Admirable, rigorous. De Waal [is] a wise and patient reporter.”

-The New York Review of Books,

“This book is a major milestone in the Western scholarship on Karabakh.”

-Armenian Freedom Network ,



“This book is helpful because in order to craft a final resolution to the conflict, one must understand what events transpired in the first place. De Waal's book significantly contributes to this purpose and establishes itself as one of the standard works for understanding this conflict.”

-Parameters ,

“Never have all the twists and turns, sad carnage, and bullheadedness on all sides been better described-or, indeed, better explained . . . Offers a deeper and more compelling account of the conflict than anyone before.”

-Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs
Of the half dozen violent conflicts that erupted during the disintegration of the Soviet empire in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the most complicated and intractable has been the Azerbaijani-Armenian dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. Never have all the twists and turns, sad carnage, and bullheadedness on all sides been better described — or, indeed, better explained, for de Waal, by deftly combining history with carefully assembled on-the-ground detail, offers a deeper and more compelling account of the conflict than anyone before. He ferrets out critical material from an amazingly diverse set of interviews and assembles the story in a calm, firm, utterly fair-minded fashion, one likely to exercise give-no-quarters partisans on both sides.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814719459
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 8/25/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas de Waal has reported on Russia and the Caucasus since 1993 for the Moscow Times, The Times of London, The Economist, and the BBC World Service. He is currently Senior Associate, Caucasus at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His publications include, most recently, The Caucasus: An Introduction.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note
Two Maps, of the south Caucasus and of Nagorny Karabakh
Introduction: Crossing the Line 1
1 February 1988: An Armenian Revolt 10
2 February 1988: Azerbaijan: Puzzlement and Pogroms 29
3 Shusha: The Neighbors' Tale 45
4 1988-1989: An Armenian Crisis 55
5 Yerevan: Mysteries of the East 73
6 1988-1990: An Azerbaijani Tragedy 82
7 Baku: An Eventful History 96
8 1990-1991: A Soviet Civil War 108
9 Divisions: A Twentieth-Century Story 125
10 Hurekavank: The Unpredictable Past 145
11 August 1991 - May 1992: War Breaks Out 159
12 Shusha: The Last Citadel 184
13 June 1992 - September 1993: Escalation 194
14 Sabirabad: The Children's Republic 217
15 September 1993 - May 1994: Exhaustion 225
16 Stepanakert: A State Apart 241
17 1994-2001: No War, No Peace 251
Conclusion: Sadakhlo: The Future 269
App. 1: Statistics 284
App. 2: Chronology 287
Notes 299
Bibliography 321
Index 327
About the Author 337
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2006

    Excellent book

    This outstanding book explains the complex situation that exists between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The explanation is brilliant, clear, easy to understand even for someone who is not familiar with this area of the world. It is a must have for anyone who wishes to know what is happening in these former Soviet Republics.

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