Since I started working at my current job (its already been almost two years) I’ve been trying to get back into reading for my own amusement/ knowledge. While I was at Tufts I sort of fell out of the habit, but beginning with “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” I’ve been demolishing book after book on the train, on the bus, or on the odd park bench.
I recently finished Azerbaijan Diary by Thomas Goltz, who had a long career as a journalist throughout the North and South Caucasus. If you’re interested at all in the history of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the politics of Post-Soviet Azerbaijan, you should definitely look into it. The style makes for easy reading, and it is sprinkled with genuine insight and discussion of Post-Soviet politics and diplomacy in early 1990’s (mostly because it seems like Mr. Goltz was actual interested in the material he was witnessing and because he made excellent connections with some pretty high level bureaucrats, both Azeri and American.
The book is considered the first part of a trilogy on his reporting from the region, the last of which, about Georgia, I just bought. It was updated after the war in 2008, which made for a slightly clunky beginning (first a new introduction, then the original, and a rather chunky historical overview of Georgian history). It is also much shorter than his work on Azerbaijan, but I think will turn out to be of similar quality.
On my plate are the following recent purchases:
A Vietcong Memoir: An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and Aftermath by Troung Nhu Tang
In the Jaws of History by Bui Diem
Street Without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina by Bernard Fall
I also bought at a nice bargain two books by Raymond Garthoff, a former U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria appointed by President Carter: Detente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan and The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War. Since my Twitter feed is dominated by scholars and journalist covering the FSU, the advertising targeted to me is super specific. Some professor on Cold War history kept tweeting a picture contrasting his new book’s thin size with Garthoff’s two massive (apparently classic and often assigned) tomes. So I felt like I had to check them out.
If you have any suggestions about further reads, feel free to message me. I always appreciate a recommendation.