The Caucasian Knot: The History & Geopolitics of Nagorno-Karabagh

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As the Soviet Union entered its death throes, the self-determination of the nations within its republics became an issue over which people were prepared to die. When Azerbaijan declared its independence, the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabagh followed suit. Before long, pogrom and war were the order of the day, resulting in thousands of Armenian and Azeri casualties.

This book examines the history of Mountainous Karabagh, the ancient Artsakh of the Armenians, and assesses the mass of archaeological material and documentary evidence supporting the conflicting Azeri and Armenian claims. The authors follow the populations of the area from antiquity through periods of Mongol, Turkmen and Persian occupation, on to Turkey's and Russia's entry onto the scene, the period of Bolshevik rule, perestroika and, finally, the war with Azerbaikjan. This book highlights the Armenian culture of the enclave, traces Karabagh's demographic evolution and situates the current hostilities in terms of the interests of neighbouring Russia, Iran and Turkey. The picture that emerges of a clash of nationalistic passions and of Russian economic, military and diplomatic calculation is a signpost for future conflicts on both sides of the Caucasus.

The assertion of Armenian and Azeri identity and culture remain at the heart of this tragedy. This book helps us to understand why the Armenians feel so strongly that Artsakh is theirs and is worth dying for.


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Brilliant, authoritative, and accessible, The Caucasian Knot is a must read. The authors balance impeccable scholarship with a gifted storyteller’s engaging voice. They vividly portray the driving forces and personalities, the perspectives of the conflict parties, and the rich legacy of Nagorno Karabakh in global history, politics and imagination. 

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The Caucasian Knot is perhaps the most valued contribution to the study of Nagorno Karabakh ever made. The book is written by an American and two Frenchmen. They have meticulously researched the history and politics of the region, and presented a clear, unbiased and well organized narrative that explains the political history of the province. Not surprising, this book is on the bookshelves of every student and analyst interested in Nagorno Karabakh.  


Strengths and Weaknesses of the Armenian and Azerbaijani
the US Russia Turkey Iran Great
Karabagh in the Twentieth Century
The Rescue of Armenian Karabagh
The Destruction of Shushi
The Fall of the Armenian Republic
The Autonomous Region of Mountainous Karabagh
Early Attempts at Reunification with Armenia
The Impasse
Ill An Appeal from the Armenian National Council of Karabagh
Speech by Henrik Poghosian First Secretary of the Regional
Interview with Galina Starovoitova Deputy in

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About the author (1994)

Levon Chorbajian teaches at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Patrick Donabedian is a diplomat at the French Embassy in Yerevan. Claude Mutafian is a lecturer at the University of Paris.

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