Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk - Chs. 23-37

Chapter 23 - The Great Russian Advance Begins

  • 1856: "the Second Opium War, the so-called Arrow War, between Britain and Chine...Following their victory, the British had made various demands of the Emperor, to which he had reluctantly agreed. These included the right of European powers to have diplomats residing in Peking, the opening of more ports to foreign trade, and the payment of a huge indemnity to Britain." - 298
  • "the hawks at the top [of Russian bureaucracy] had an unexpected ally in Otto von Bismarck, then Prussian ambassador to St Petersburg, and soon to become his country's chief minister and the architect of the German Empire. Believing that the more the Russians became involved in Asia the less of a threat they would be in Europe, he strongly encouraged them to embark on what he called their 'great civilising mission'." - 301
Chapter 24 - Lion of Tashkent

  • "Cherniaev reasoned that once the imperial flag had been raised over Tashkent the Tsar would be loath to see it hauled down. He therefore recommended that the city should once again become an independent khanate, but from now on under Russian protection." - 311
  • "Looking back now, it is obvious that from the moment General Kaufman took up his new post as Governor-General of Turkestan the days of the independent khanates of Central Asia were numbered." - 314
  • May 2, 1868: "Samarkand was absorbed into the Russian Empire...The capture of this legendary city, with its dazzling architectural splendours, including the tomb of Tamerlane himself, was seen as the settling of an ancient score." - 315
Chapter 25 - Spies Along the Silk Road

  • "Chinese Turkestan, or Sinkiang as it is today called, had long been part of the Chinese Empire. However, the central authorities' hold over it had always been tenuous, for the Muslim population had nothing in common with their Manchu rulers and everything in common with their ethnic cousins in Bokhara, Khokand and Khiva, lying on the far side of the Pamirs." - 321-2
  • "It was at that moment that a remarkable Muslim adventurer named Yakub Beg, claiming direct descent from Tamerlane, arrived on the scene." - 322
Chapter 26 - The Feel of Cold Steel Across His Throat

  • "So it was that the Russians, in a period of just ten years, had annexed a territory half the size of the United States, and erected a defensive barrier across central Asia stretching from the Caucasus in the west to Khokand and Kuldja in the east." - 353
  • "The vast markets for European goods which both the British and the Russians had believed to exist in the region were to prove illusory. It soon became clear, moreover, that Yakub Beg was merely stringing his two powerful neighbors along" - 354
Chapter 27 - A Physician from the North
Chapter 28 - Captain Burnaby's Ride to Khiva
  • "General Stolietov...cautioned the Emir against receiving any British missions, at the same time promising him the support of 30,000 Russian troops if the need arose." - 382
Chapter 29 - Bloodbath at the Bala Hissar
  • After facing 100,000 Afghani tribesmen, the British "decided to offer Abdur Rahman [grandson of Dost Mohammed] the throne. Talks followed, and an agreement was reached. Under the terms of this, the British would withdraw from Kabul, leaving a Muslim agent as their sole representative. In return Abdur Rahman agreed to have no relations with any foreign power other than Britain" - 397
Chapter 30 - The Last Stand of the Turcomans
  • "After an agonised debate, the once-proud Turcomans, for so long the lords of Transcaspia, agreed to surrender their capital [of Merv] and submit to the rule of St Petersburg." - 414
  • "Once again the Russians were gambling on Gladstone's Liberals not going beyond their customary remonstrances on finding themselves confronted by a fait accompli. The announcement [of Merv's submission], however, did not take the British government entirely by surprise, even if it was in no position, with a major crisis on its hands in the Sudan, to do much about it." - 415
Chapter 31 - To the Brink of War
Chapter 32 - The Railway to the East
  • "Work on this line [Transcaspian Railway] had begun in 1880 on the orders of General Skobelev when he was preparing for his advance on Geok-Tepe." - 438
  • George Nathaniel Curzon, a "young and ambitious Tory backbencher", said after travelling along the Railway that Russia's "real objective was not Calcutta but Constantinople. 'To keep England quiet in Europe by keeping her employed in Asia,' he declared, 'That, briefly put, is the sum and substance of Russian policy.'" - 446
Chapter 33 - Where Three Empires Meet
  • "The Tsar's generals had begun to show an alarming interest in that lofty no-man's-land where the Hindu Kush, Pamirs, Karakorams and Himalayas converged, and where three great empires -- those of Britain, Russia and China -- met." - 449
Chapter 34 - Flashpoint in the High Pamirs
Chapter 35 - The Race for Chitral
Chapter 36 - The Beginning of the End
  • "It was to Tibet...that the focus of the Great Game now shifted, as word was received in India that twice within twelve months an emissary from the Dalai Lama had visited St Petersburg, where he had been warmly welcomed by the Tsar." - 505
  • "For many months the Japanese had watched with growing apprehension the Russian military and naval build-up in the Far East...the Japanese High Command decided to do what the British, wisely or otherwise, had never risked doing in Central Asia. This was to meet the Russian threat head on. On February 8, 1904, the Japanese struck without warning. Their target was the great Russian naval base at Port Arthur. The Russo-Japanese War had begun." - 509
Chapter 37 - End-game
  • May 26, 1905: "the two fleets met in the Tsushima Straits, which divide Japan from Korea. The outcome was catastrophic for the Russians. In the space of a few hours they suffered one of the worst defeats in naval history" - 516
  • September 5, 1905: "a peace treaty was signed at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, between the warring parties [, Russia and Japan]. This effectively brought to an end the Tsarist Russia's forward policy in Asia." - 517
  • December 1905: "the Liberals drove the Tories from power. The new Cabinet, headed by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, was genuinely determined to reach a permanent accommodation with the Russians." - 519
  • August 31, 1907: "amid great secrecy, the historic Anglo-Russian Convention was signed in St Petersburg by [Russian Foreign Minister] Count Izvolsky and Sir Arthur Nicolson, the British Ambassador." - 521

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