Lost Enlightenment by S. Frederick StarrIn this sweeping and richly illustrated history, S. Frederick Starr tells the fascinating but largely unknown story of Central Asia's medieval enlightenment through the eventful lives and astonishing accomplishments of its greatest minds--remarkable figures who built a bridge to the modern world. Because nearly all of these figures wrote in Arabic, they were long assumed to have been Arabs. In fact, they were from Central Asia--drawn from the Persianate and Turkic peoples of a region that today extends from Kazakhstan southward through Afghanistan, and from the easternmost province of Iran through Xinjiang, China. Lost Enlightenment recounts how, between the years 800 and 1200, Central Asia led the world in trade and economic development, the size and sophistication of its cities, the refinement of its arts, and, above all, in the advancement of knowledge in many fields. Central Asians achieved signal breakthroughs in astronomy, mathematics, geology, medicine, chemistry, music, social science, philosophy, and theology, among other subjects. They gave algebra its name, calculated the earth's diameter with unprecedented precision, wrote the books that later defined European medicine, and penned some of the world's greatest poetry. One scholar, working in Afghanistan, even predicted the existence of North and South America--five centuries before Columbus. Rarely in history has a more impressive group of polymaths appeared at one place and time. No wonder that their writings influenced European culture from the time of St. Thomas Aquinas down to the scientific revolution, and had a similarly deep impact in India and much of Asia. Lost Enlightenment chronicles this forgotten age of achievement, seeks to explain its rise, and explores the competing theories about the cause of its eventual demise. Informed by the latest scholarship yet written in a lively and accessible style, this is a book that will surprise general readers and specialists alike.
Rock between hard places : Afghanistan as an arena of regional insecurity by Kristian Berg Harpviken; Shahrbanou TadjbakhshWhat drives neighboring states to intervene in the Afghan conflict? This book challenges mainstream analyses which place Afghanistan at the center - the so-called "heart" - of a large pan- Asian region whose fate is predicated on Afghan stability. Instead Harpviken and Tadjbakhsh situate Afghanistan on the margins of three regional security complexes - those of South Asia, Central Asia, and the Persian Gulf - each characterized by deep security rivalries, which, in turn, informs their engagement in Afghanistan. Within Central Asia, security cooperation is hampered by competition for regional supremacy and great power support, a dynamic reflected in these states' half-hearted role in Afghanistan. In the Persian Gulf, Iran and Saudi Arabia fight for economic and political influence, mirrored in their Afghan engagements; while long-standing Indo-Pakistani rivalries are perennially played out in Afghanistan. Based on a careful reading of the recent political and economic history of the region, and of Great Power rivalry beyond it, the authors explain why efforts to build a comprehensive Afghanistan-centric regional security order have failed, and what might be done to reset inter-state relations.
Dust of Empire by Karl E. MeyerExamines the Asian heartland blending scholarship with reportage, and providing details about regions and peoples of urgent concern to America. It offers a complex tapestry of a region where empires have so often come to grief - a cautionary tale for the US and its allies.
Culture and Customs of the Central Asian Republics by Rafis AbazovSeoul, South Korea Mia is an outsider. The child of an English mother, she defies the rigid expectations of her Korean stepmother to work as a translator at the British Embassy. Her uncle runs a charitable - and controversial - school for North Korean defectors, and prevails upon Mia's stepmother to shelter a traumatised young student. Mia is too preoccupied to note the defector's strange behaviour - or its implications. She has become infatuated with Thomas, a diplomat with a self-destructive streak. When an outrageous indiscretion endangers his position, it is Mia who saves him from humiliation and rescues his career. And the boundaries between them are crossed. As a reward for his reformation, Thomas is commissioned to audit security amongst Embassy staff. Learning of Mia's connections to the defector, he is compelled to dig deeper into the life of the woman who has captivated him. Suddenly, all that Mia has done to get close to Thomas begins to cause her undoing.