Let Our Fame Be Great: Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus

Let Our Fame Be Great: Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus

by Oliver Bullough
     
 

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The jagged peaks of the Caucasus Mountains have hosted a rich history of diverse nations, valuable trade, and incessant warfare. But today the region is best known for atrocities in Chechnya and the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.

In Let Our Fame Be Great, journalist and Russian expert Oliver Bullough explores the fascinating cultural crossroads of

Overview


The jagged peaks of the Caucasus Mountains have hosted a rich history of diverse nations, valuable trade, and incessant warfare. But today the region is best known for atrocities in Chechnya and the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.

In Let Our Fame Be Great, journalist and Russian expert Oliver Bullough explores the fascinating cultural crossroads of the Caucasus, where Europe, Asia, and the Middle East intersect. Traveling through its history, Bullough tracks down the nations dispersed by the region’s last two hundred years of brutal warfare. Filled with a compelling mix of archival research and oral history, Let Our Fame Be Great recounts the tenacious survival of peoples who have been relentlessly invaded and persecuted and yet woefully overlooked.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this grim exploration of some of history's less publicized tragedies, Bullough, who has reported for Reuters from the Caucasus, covers two centuries of conflict between a remorseless Russian military machine and the proud, warlike, anarchic peoples of the Caucasus Mountains. The crimes he chronicles are vast--the 1864 expulsion of a million Circassians; Stalin's deportations of "Mountain Turks" to Central Asia; Putin's "war of complete savagery" in Chechnya. Bullough tries to convey both their epic scale and their impact on individual victims. His firsthand reporting of the Chechnya conflict is especially evocative, and he adds softer interludes that humanize the material: a survey of Russian Romantic writings about the Caucasus, a vivid profile of 19th-century Chechen guerrilla leader Imam Shamil, visits with Caucasian expatriates. Nevertheless, this overstuffed saga of suffering and injustice can grow dreary. The brutality of Russia's army and officialdom is eternal, while the many ethnicities they oppress blur together, and we get no vivid sense of the cultures that inspire their dogged resistance and nonconformity. 16 pages of photos, maps. (Aug. 3)
From the Publisher

Financial Times
"[An] impressive debut....Wonderful travel history....With this impassioned volume [Bullough] has struck a blow for the glory of the Caucasus and helped to give voice to the voiceless."

New Statesman
“Bullough should be congratulated on his brave and tireless investigations into an under-reported region of the world.”

Sunday Times(UK)
"The Caucasus is a frontier land of high, jagged snow peaks, ruined flint fortresses and pine forests that have hidden centuries of bare-rock rebellion by warrior nations. Waves of uprising, conquest, deportation, exile and resettlement have pitted the peoples of the north Caucasus against Russia for hundreds of years and continue to do so still. Oliver Bullough’s book is a painstaking, sensitively reported effort to knit together their lost history."

Times(UK)
"How much do you want or need to understand about a far-off place of which we know little? More than you would think, to judge by the enthusiasm of Oliver Bullough, who brings us exciting news, presented as short, gripping stories that tell of the terrible things that happen to people caught up in constant warfare, who have long struggled for survival and suffered not only diaspora but enforced deportation. The history of their resistance and resilience has been largely unknown for two centuries. Now their stories are sung by a champion and will resound beyond their boundaries."

Norman Stone, Director of the Center for Russian Studies at Bilkent University, and author of The Atlantic and Its Enemies and World War One
“This wonderful, moving book flashes backwards and forwards over a terrain almost impossible to survey, and manages the feat.”

Orlando Figes, author of The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia and A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution: 1891-1924
“Lively and impassioned… a tragically neglected corner of our world.”

Spectator(UK)
Let Our Fame Be Great is a treat. It is finely bound, with excellent maps, and Bullough draws you irresistibly into his narrative, fusing reportage, history and travelogue in colourful, absorbing prose..... He tells a brilliant story, interweaving personal reportage with impressive reading, both in the Caucasus and its far-flung diaspora.”

Kirkus (Starred Review)
“A gripping, often sanguinary account of the history, culture and current status of the people for whom the Caucasus has been home, battleground and slaughterhouse… this is a fearless examination of a brutal place… A remarkably illuminating window into a world of neglected people and deleted history.”

Independent (UK)
“Remarkable....Powerfully-written.”

The Economist (UK)
“Oliver Bullough’s first book marks him out as a distinguished researcher, observer and narrator....His research is formidable.”
 

Financial Times (London)
“A courageous young journalist illuminates one of the world’s most ethnically and culturally diverse regions. His travels and historical back-stories show that contemporary brutality in Chechnya is nothing new, and reminds us of the fate of whole nations such as the Circassians, scattered to the winds by Russian imperialism.”
 
The New Republic
“[I]mpressively researched and devastating… Bullough’s book combines intimate personal accounts, formidable historical research, and first-hand observations collected during years of reporting in the region into a heart-scraping testimony of Russia’s systematic and deliberate brutality in the North Caucasus—and the cruel acts of terror that it continues to provoke.”
 
Christian Science Monitor
“[C]ompelling. . . . As Bullough dashes and darts us through the amazing and forgotten episodes of the region, we see that this is a book of discoveries… cultural history filtered through the eyes and heart of a bright and earnest young writer… fresh and vital, admiring and frustrated.”
 

The Sunday Times (London) Books of the Year
“Oliver Bullough…clearly put his heart and soul into his grand, furious Let Our Fame Be Great.”
 
Times Literary Supplement (London)
Let Our Fame Be Great is a beautifully written piece of reportage intertwined with historical narrative.”
 
The Scotsman
“[A]s Bullough shows time and again in a book that effortlessly mixes on-the-spot reportage and a wide-ranging history, though the Caucasian highlanders' suffering has been great, their fame has not.”
 
The Guardian (London)
“Raw, romantic, almost Byronic”
 
The Explorer’s Journal “[Bullough] bravely entered this dangerous, haunted region to learn about and tell the sad, brutal story of war, genocide, and survival. . . . More than simply chronicle the destruction, Bullough explores the culture, literature, history, and personalities to present a more rounded portrait of the region."

Kirkus Reviews
An Institute for War and Peace Reporting journalist debuts with a gripping, often sanguinary account of the history, culture and current status of the people for whom the Caucasus has been home, battleground and slaughterhouse. Several times, Bullough confesses fear or anxiety in this harrowing history of a region he has come to know well and traverse many times, often in the company of people whose language he only partially knows, if at all. Nonetheless, this is a fearless examination of a brutal place, in which the Russians come off particularly poorly. Beginning more than two centuries ago, the Russians-then the Soviets, now the Russians once again-employed every weapon in the arsenal of human cruelty, including murder, massacre, relocation and ethnic cleansing, to subdue people who, according to the author, mostly desired to be left alone. Bullough begins with people less-known in the West-the Circassians-and, deftly maneuvering through history, legend and geopolitics, tells the story of their defeats and diaspora (many are now in Jordan). The author takes us to little-known sites of long-forgotten atrocities, places unknown now even to the local residents, and reminds us continually how victors write history books, erect memorials and control cultural memory. The author then turns to groups of mountain Turks-the Balkars and the Karachais-whose very existence the Soviets denied well into the 1940s. Finally, Bullough explores the complicated and tragic stories of the Chechens, a more familiar name. They, too, suffered unspeakably at the hands of those who wanted their land. The author notes that, in desperation, the Chechens have committed some unspeakably stupid and destructive acts of their own. In this final section, Bullough tells individual stories of people separated from land and loved ones. A remarkably illuminating window into a world of neglected people and deleted history.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465021840
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
08/03/2010
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
528
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author


Oliver Bullough studied modern history at Oxford University before moving to St. Petersburg, Bishkek, and Moscow. Writing for local newspapers and then for Reuters news agency, he reported from Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. He now lives in Hackney, East London.

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