Synopses & Reviews
Winner of the Los Angeles Times
Book Prize for History
In this study of the fateful encounters between Europe and Asia on the shores of a legendary sea, Neal Ascherson explores the disputed meaning of community, nationhood, history, and culture in a region famous for its dramatic conflicts. What makes the Back Sea cultures distinctive, Ascherson agrues, is the way their comonent parts came together over the millennia to shape unique communities, languages, religions, and trade. As he shows with skill and persuasiveness, Black Sea patterns in the Caucasus, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, and Greece have linked the peoples of Europe and Asia together for centuries.
"A searching examination of the lands that ring the Black Sea and that were the scenes of some of the most ancient multicultural experiences of human history . . . rich both in historical data and in interpretation . . . with something to learn on every page. With ethnic conflicts much in the headlines, Mr. Ascherson's portrait of a place whose chief characteristic is the durability of its many ethnic identities comes at the right moment."--Richard Bernstein, The New York Times
"History and time and place flow together [in this] superb, encompassing story of the Black Sea region."--Mary Lee Settle, Los Angeles Times
"To say it at once: this is a superb book, beautifully written, evocative, learned, and deeply subtle."--Timothy Garton Ash, The Times Literary Supplement
"A beautifully written meditation on nationality, colonialism, nomadism and the settled life, which goes back to the beginning of the human world and traces the fortunes of the Aegean and Mediterranean traders who squeezed up through the Bosporus to do business with the steppe societies of the huge Black Sea hinterland."--Karl Miller, San Francisco Review of Books
"Brimming with . . . urgent argument: about culture, national identity, the misuse of history, archaeology, the co-existence of different peoples, the responsibility of intellectuals . . . not a boring or badly written paragraph in it."--Noel Malcolm, The Sunday Telegraph
This strikingly original book is about place and history - about the universe of the Black Sea, from Jason and the Golden Fleece to the fall of Communism and the new world disorder. As Neal Ascherson shows in a colorful, learned, and surprising chronicle, the Black Sea has been a decisive "personality" in the history of Europe and Asia; his exploration of the myths and realities surrounding it reveals why it is still so alluring - and important - today.
About the Author
, a leading British scholar-journalist, writes for The Independent
in London and The New York Review of Books
. He is the author of Polish August
and The Struggle for Poland
, among other books. He lives in London