"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Lamps Are Going Out All Over Europe and We Shall Not See Them Lit Again

We are fast coming on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War--about which the British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey is said to have uttered the quotation in the header above. It was that event which, arguably more than any other, so shaped our world down to the present day. The collapse of three major and longstanding empires--the Russian, Ottoman, and Hapsburg, and one parvenu, the German--would have major consequences for Eastern Christians, especially Russians and Armenians, and we have a new book examining two of those empires: Michael A. Reynolds, Shattering Empires: The Clash and Collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires 1908-1918 (Oxford U Press, 2011), 324pp. 

About this book the publisher tells us:
The break-up of the Ottoman empire and the disintegration of the Russian empire were watershed events in modern history. The unravelling of these empires was both cause and consequence of World War I and resulted in the deaths of millions. It irrevocably changed the landscape of the Middle East and Eurasia and reverberates to this day in conflicts throughout the Caucasus and Middle East. Shattering Empires draws on extensive research in the Ottoman and Russian archives to tell the story of the rivalry and collapse of two great empires. Overturning accounts that portray their clash as one of conflicting nationalisms, this pioneering study argues that geopolitical competition and the emergence of a new global interstate order provide the key to understanding the course of history in the Ottoman-Russian borderlands in the twentieth century. It will appeal to those interested in Middle Eastern, Russian, and Eurasian history, international relations, ethnic conflict, and World War I.

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