4. March 2013 17:31
I am very seldom fascinated by the books I come across anymore. I have voraciously read since I was four years old, and have enjoyed a great variety of different genres, styles and worldviews. Lately however, the crop I harvested from bestseller lists and other literary rankings has been disappointing to say the least. Therefore I have refused to recommend books to other readers, no matter how often I am prompted to do so.
So imagine my great joy and almost palpable delight when I followed the suggestions of a writer reviewing at the Wall Street Journal and imported two hard-to-come-by selections through my local library.
Today I will talk about the “Sabres of Paradise” by Lesley Blanch. Anyone who loves history, drama, great research and an interesting writing style will find this book a wonderful read.
The author provides us a marvelous introduction into the Tsarist Russia of the 19th-century, by painting a vivid picture of the Great Caucasus War that raged from 1834 until 1859. Central to this war are the mountain tribes of Daghestan and Chechnya under the leadership of the ‘Lion of Daghestan’ Imam Shamyl. If one truly wants to understand today’s separation agonies between Russia and its former Muslim Soviet Republics one should read this book.
The book hearkens back to the Tsarist conquest of the Caucasus, Georgia, Tartary and Chechnya. I have researched a great part of these conquests when I wrote “Catherine” the first part of the Trilogy ‘The Volga Flows Forever,’ and can vouch for the authenticity of the subject matter discussed.
I found this to be a fascinating read—vivid, epic and heroic—interspersed with alluring tidbits of Russian and Caucasian everyday lives.
This is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend to the discerning reader; however, commit yourself to a lengthy read.