The Black Sea: A History

In This Review

The Black Sea: A History

By Charles King
Oxford University Press, 2004
304 pp. $29.95
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The collapse of the Soviet Union restored two great geostrategic arenas long buried in now-defunct empires or pushed to the margin by Cold War alignments. The first is Inner Asia, an immense hinterland stretching from the Chinese borderlands, across the Siberian south, to the Hindu Kush. The second is the Black Sea, a junction where the Balkans, Central Asia, and the Middle East meet. (Say no more.) To appreciate what this re-embodiment means one needs a special vantage point. King traces the Black Sea's many political incarnations from the Greeks and Scythians to the Romans, the Byzantine Christians, the Ottomans, the Russians, and the tumult of the twentieth century. Even when fractured and populated with weak and troubled states (as now), the region, King argues in this mind-broadening book, coheres-and deserves to be thought about and approached accordingly.