Edge of Empires : A History of Georgia
Georgia is the most Western-looking state in today’s Near or Middle East and, despite having one of the longest, most turbulent histories in the Christian or Near Eastern world, no proper history of the country has been written for decades. Donald Rayfield redresses this balance in Edge of Empires, focusing not merely on the post-Soviet era, like many other books on Georgia, but on the whole of its history, accessing a mass of new material from the country’s recently opened archives.
The book begins with the first intimations of the existence of Georgians in ancient Anatolia and ends with today’s volatile President Saakashvili. It deals not only with the country’s internal politics, but with its complex struggles with the empires which have tried to control, fragment or even exterminate the country. All the world’s history – Xenophon’s Greeks, the Arabs, the invading Turks, the Crusades, Chingiz Khan and Timur Lang, the Persian empire, the Russian empire, Soviet totalitarianism – is reflected in Georgia’s history.
Donald Rayfield describes Georgia’s swings between disintegration and unity, making full use of primary sources, many not available before in an English-language book. He examines the history of a country which, though small, stands at a crossroads between Russia and the Muslim world, between Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and is a dramatic example of state-building and, also, of tragic political mistakes.