Russia & Asia: Nomadic and Oriental Traditions in Russian History

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Odyssey Books & Guides, 2007 - History - 475 pages
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A new approach to the study of Russian history. Traditionally the history of Russia has been interpreted from the European standpoint, and has more often than not been based on European sources and methods. However, Edgar Knobloch takes a completely new and unconventional scholarly approach to the history of Russia. Using economic and legal analyses, archeology and the history of art, as well as analogies with other countries and cultures, he charts the influence and traditions of the Eastern civilizations in Russian history-an element of exceptional importance that, until now, has been largely neglected by historians. This new treatment, which takes into full account the effect of Persian, Turkish, Byzantine and nomadic influences-rather than just the European-enables the author to elucidate and explain many controversial events and to draft a continuous line of development from the earliest past right down to our own times. 30 maps and diagrams.

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This is the antidote to Orlando Figes 'Natasha's Dance'. Knobloch draws the connections that Figes seems to suggest, but finally avoids making, between the Asian aspects of Russian cultural and economic history and the form taken by Soviet Communism. He has a huge axe to grind, he is not fond of the Russian way of doing things, but he writes so clearly that he always lets you know exactly where he's coming from. Right from the outset we see him using a very high proportion of quoted material: although he is clearly selective, he also sometimes uses a quote against his own argument so as to knock it down with a stronger one. We see him mounting his case as if in a court of law. Once again, this is so explicit that the reader feels honestly dealt with. It is a case both against European delusions about Russia, and against Russian self-delusions and in particular the construction of the myth of Kievian Russia as a Christian civilsation which would form the cultural paradigm for Muscovy and then the Empire.  


The Society of the Nomads
The Seljuks and the Russians

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About the author (2007)

Edgar Knobloch is uniquely qualified for this work. A graduate in Law and Economics, he has studied the History of the Middle East and Arabic, speaks fluent Russian, dabbled in Turkish and Persian. In more than 30 journeys he has visited all Middle Eastern countries from Yemen to Xinjiang, China, as well as Russia. His works include, among others, The Art of Central Asia, Beyond the Oxus, Monuments of Central Asia, and Archaeology and Art of Afghanistan. He has also made translations of several medieval travelogues, including those of Carpini, Rubruck, and Clavijo. He lives in France.

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