Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Claws of the Crab

Last night I wrapped up reading Claws of the Crab: Georgia and Armenia in Crisis by Stephen Brook. It had taken me a while ... work's been busy.

The author was invited to Georgia and Armenia during the early 1990's in an attempt to increase Western business interest in these states. His hosts agreed to show him around. Coincidentally he happened to be based in Tbilisi, Georgia while Gamsakhurdia's presidency was falling apart and civil war loomed and traveling throughout Armenia while the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh was in full swing. Obviously this would be bad experience for most, but a good one for a journalist and an fascinating read for someone like myself. Brook devotes the first have of his travelogue to Georgia. He is brought to different tourist sites, samples Georgian wine and food and somehow manages to get a press pass in Tbilisi. He details his encounters with pro-Gamsakhurdia and opposition leaders. His book is a great witness to prelude to 1991-1992 uprising in Tbilisi. Unfortunately, he leaves the state just before the street battle intensifies and culminates in the ouster of Gamsakhurdia. Brook then travels to Armenia to tour more sites, meet with businessmen and unsuccessfully try to meet with various politicians. His descriptions of the situation in Armenia, corruption, brain drain, inflation and hardship are satisfying, but slanted. At the end of the book Brook travels back to Georgia and describes the conclusion of the revolt (and somewhat predicts Georgia's future struggles). Finally, Brooks makes his way to Karabakh for a weekend and details the on the ground situation there. Although this book is definitely not for everyone, I was very pleased to find it. At this point it is the best book I've found for this time period.

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