Azerbaijan Diary: A Rogue Reporter's Adventures in an Oil-rich, War-torn, Post-Soviet Republic Paperback – May 12 1999
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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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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....
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. ...
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
All I have to say is that he was in an overloaded helicopter escaping from a soon-to-be overrun village and they cleared a mountain pass by 5 feet. Read morePublished on July 7 2004 by John Buflod
I don't know what I was thinking when I bought a history book written by a journalist, but I certainly got what I deserved.Published on June 25 2004
Finally, a writer who is not afraid to tell the truth. If you listen to all the pro-Armenian propoganda, you would think that all Azeris are monsters. Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2004 by Amazon Customer
One question that I have to Thomas Goltz is how much money was he paid by Azeri propaganda machine?
I am a refugee from Karabakh, Shahumyan region, which was completely... Read more
This book is a completely bias/one-sided perception of the events in and around Nagorno-Karabagh. How can Karabagh be claimed by Azerbaijan when it contains CENTURIES old churches... Read morePublished on Nov. 20 2003 by AH
Although many "reviewers" here might disagree with me, but this is a pretty neutral, fair, clear and well-explained story about Azerbaijan's Independece. Read morePublished on Sept. 19 2002
Gotlz was on the front line of a nasty little war that few in the West took much notice of. His time in Azerbaijan got him a front row seat to the crumbling edges of the Soviet... Read morePublished on May 4 2002 by Amazon Customer
As a scholar, studying and teaching the history of military conflicts in the Caucasus, I found the book extremely useful. Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2002
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