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Azerbaijan Diary: A Rogue Reporter's Adventures in an Oil-rich, War-torn, Post-Soviet Republic Paperback – May 12 1999

3.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; Revised ed. edition (May 12 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076560244X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765602442
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,708,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

Azerbaijan is surely among the most complex of Soviet successor states, save Russia itself. Goltz enjoys the distinction of being probably the only Western correspondent whose personal courage and linguistic skill made possible this unique witness to the country's first years of independence. He takes us from his "illegal" entry during the last phase of Soviet rule through accession of former KGB chief and Azeri President Heydar Aliyev. As sheer adventure, the account stands by itself as compelling reading, but the scholarly minded will benefit as Goltz moves from the poverty of postindependence Baku through the chaotic war involving Armenia and the "Black Garden" of Nagorno-Karabakh. Excursions to Tashkent, Teheran, and Grozny add perspective with emerging Turkish-Iranian rivalry for influence. But the book's crowning feature is the author's interviews with the republic's three presidents and the reemergence of the opposition "Popular Front" against Aliyev. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.?Zachary T. Irwin, Pennsylvania State Univ. Erie
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

This underground classic tells the story of oil-rich Azerbaijan's first years of independence from Moscow. Thomas Goltz became an accidental witness to Azerbaijan's inglorious history-in-the-making when he was detoured into Baku in mid-1991 - and decided to stay. This record of his years there alternates in style between tragedy and farce. Throughout, the intensity of immediate experience is balanced by an acute awareness of contemporaneous events in Karabakh and Naxjivan, Georgia and Armenia, Russia and Chechnya, Iran and Turkey, Washington and Houston. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Thomas Goltz spent six years as a reporter in and around Azerbaijan, starting in 1991. He saw the collapse of the USSR and the start of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, and filed many war-zone reports. The result is fascinating, though a little uneven in places: Goltz is a fine war reporter, but not the best historiographer in the world.
Despite the title, the book is not quite a diary, although there is a good detail of day-to-day detail about life in Azerbaijan (he spent most of his time in Baku). The book's two main foci are the political history of Azerbaijan during this period, and the conflict with Armenia. The political history is done very well -- Goltz introduces a large cast, keeps them fairly distinct, and through his personal acquaintance with almost all of them brings them to life. It's clear that Goltz acquired a good deal of affection for the Azerbaijanis, and he is enraged by the corruption and indifference of many of the Azerbaijan political class. When, in the end, the old Soviet-era fox Heydar Aliyev wins power and actually gets the Caspian oil (and concomitant money) to flow via deals with international oil companies, Goltz is grudgingly respectful -- Aliyev may be lying about his democratic credentials, but he did achieve some benefit to Azerbaijan, which is more than most of his predecessors did.
As I said, Goltz is fond of the Azerbaijanis, and this does come through in his reporting of the war, which as a result feels a little less even-handed.
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Format: Paperback
While I agree with most of the other reviews (I would take the one that trashs his book with a grain of salt as my guess is that he is an Armenian/NK national that is offended by this book which is very critical of Armenia) I also want to stress that this book should be read (and will be enjoyed) by anyone interested in foreign affairs.

It's true that this book is essential for anyone interested in the Caucasus (as an American working here it was a great introduction to the recent history), the book, in addition to being an interesting story, is also a fascinating look into the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union and the new role of Russia in the region, ethnic conflict, and how international news gets reported and covered. The book definitely opened my eyes and made me a lot more skeptical about everything I read in the paper. If NK is anything to go by, what happens and what gets reported are two extremely different things.
While it's probabably true that the book could have used a bit more editing (you can sort of sense that it is collected from news stories he wrote during the years), that's really only a minor problem. Don't let the size of the book daunt you, it's a relatively quick read.
I would also recommend that the next edition have a list of names! It was a little hard to keep track of all the names so a listing at the front of the book would have been helpful.
Finally, if you want more information on Azerbaijan an the conflict in N-K, check out the following website....
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an absolute myth; as in half-truth. It was written by a journalist who was paid off from organizations sponsoring anti-Armenian sentiment. ... The fact is during the last decades of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijani forces began massacring the Armenian minority in Azerbaijani SSR. Soviet troops entered the territories trying to end the bloody conflict. All hell broke loose and then Armenia and Azerbaijan were at war. Thousands of people were killed on both sides.
Azerbaijan now claims Armenians as being the aggressors in the decades-old conflict. Bull! Azerbaijanis started a mini-genocide against Armenians and when the Armenians defeated them, whilst liberating Armenian land thus forming the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, they began ... campaigns trying to influence intolerance of Armenians. It hasn't worked.
Why didn't this book write about the massacre of Armenians prior to the war between the two former Soviet Republics? Why didn't it mention that Karabakh had always been Armenian land until Stalin forcefully seceded Karabakh from Armenian SSR and incorporated it to Azerbaijani SSR? Why didn't this book print pictures of centuries-old Armenian churches in Karabakh? Why didn't it present all the historical evidence pointing Karabakh as part of Armenia?
It doesn't make sense to me how a journalist can travel to a foreign country for a couple days and almost instantly become intelligent on a subject concerning two rival nationalities. ...
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Format: Paperback
Azerbaijan Diary details in microcosm the difficulties of building a functioning modern nation. The author was a reporter in Azerbaijan during its difficult first years of statehood in the early Nineties and had enough high-level access to give us a personal view of the significant events of its political development, describing the forces at work and the people upon whom they worked. We get vivid descriptions of the problems of pandemic corruption, the temptations of totalitarianism, the difficulties of remaining independent as the nation is wooed by nation after nation with varying interests in Azerbaijan (particularly its rich oilfields), and the poison of ethnic and nationalist strife which leads to a grueling war that could doom the nascent state in its infancy. These pressures make nation-building different everywhere, but Azerbaijan had and advantage over, say, Haiti, in that Azerbaijan has a wealth of natural resources, which gives other nations, potential trading partners, a reason to support it in its quest for stability. This one chance, however, is not necessarily enough to save it from its self-imposed problems, much less the ones visited upon it from without.
Much has been made of the author's pro-Azerbaijan stance on that proto-nation's war with Armenia over the Nagorno Karabakh region. Speaking as someone with no stake in the region, I think Goltz revealed his bias clearly enough to allow us to read his work critically, and I don't know how one might expect someone who lived in Baku, Azerbaijan's capitol, for years not to become partial to his friends. However, accusations that Goltz is a liar, paid spy, collaborator, and propagandist seem unfounded, and the outlandish venom with which they are expressed make it hard for me to take them seriously.
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