It’s season 2 of the Art of Asymmetrical Warfare! This season we’ll be discussing the Central Asian Civil Wars during the Russian Civil War.
Today, we’re starting with a BRIEF history of Central Asia. In this episode we’ll explain how this podcast defines Central Asia, give a very brief overview of Central Asia’s ancient and fascinating history, ending with Russia’s conquest of Central Asia (1839-1895), and detail what we hope to cover during season two.
When I’m not reading/researching history topics, I write fiction. My newest project is a Middle Eastern/Central Asian novel about a royal family trying to keep out colonists and a growing terrorist ring wanting to recapture the glories of the past. While writing this book, I need to do a lot of research. This week, I’ve been reading about Central Asian women-warriors, leaders, poets, etc. and I thought it’d be fun to write a post about my favorite women I’ve encountered.
I recently finished Hamid Ismailov’s book the Devils’ Dance, which is about Abdulla Qodiriy’s last days in a Soviet prison and the book he was working on before his arrest. The book mentions several Uzbek writers who I was unfamiliar with, so I decided to do a little research. This was what I was able to find out.
First World War and Central Asia
Before we can discuss the three writers, we must understand the world they lived in. All three men lived during the painful and dangerous period between the end of the Victorian Era and the beginning of the Edwardian Era. They also lived through one of the century’s greatest disasters: the First World War and then the Bolshevik Revolution.
Nationalism had been on the rise all over the world during the decades that preceded the First World War, and Central Asia was no different. When World War I occurred, many in Central Asia thought they could gain their independence. This hope was increased by the Bolshevik Revolution and the disintegration of Tsarist Russia.
A few months ago, I finished Hamid Ismailov’s the Devils’ Dance, which is a historical novel about the famous Uzbek writer, Abdulla Qodiriy’s last days in a Soviet prison, and the book the real Qodiriy was working on, but never published about an Uzbek princess, Oyxon, and the courts of Kokand and Bukhara. I was somewhat familiar with the court of Bukhara before starting the Devils’ Dance because I had read of the executions of the British envoys: Charles Stoddart and Arthur Connelly.
Inside Central Asia by Dilip Hiro. Published in 2009 by Overlook Duckworth
This book is a great overview of Central Asia from the rise of the Soviet Union to 2009. This book discusses Turkey, the Central Asian states, and Iran. It picks up where Rashid’s book left off. While Rashid focused mostly on Central Asia immediately after the Soviet Union disintegrated, Dilip focuses on how the countries tried to rebuild themselves after the fall of the wall.
The Resurgence of Central Asia: Islam or Nationalism by Ahmed Rashid. Published in 2016 by Zed Books
I have recently been fascinated by Central Asia and this book is a fantastic review of that region immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union. The book itself is a piece of history and, although I bought the newest edition, it only covers the period from the Russian invasion in the 1800s to 1994. So, while it will not provide an examination of modern Central Asia, it provides a great insight into how the Soviet Union shaped Central Asia and what people expected from that region in the 1990s.