Thursday, May 18, 2006


Since I have arrived in Arivaca I have been reading alot more than at any time in life except when I did the MA at SOAS. I actually found the MA harder than the Ph.D. The one year MA required that I read about a book a day and most of the material was completely new to me. The doctorate by contrast only required me to write about a half a page a day and I was already very familiar with the subject matter. In the last week I have finished reading Charles Allen's Soldier Sahibs and Tom Bissell's Chasing the Sea. The Allen book is on the British military exploits in the 19th Century in the Punjab, Kashmir, Afghanistan and the North West Frontier Province. Chasing the Sea is a travel book by a former Peace Corp Volunteer in Uzbekistan that manages to incorporate a lot of Central Asian history and do it well. I have been reading alot of popular history and travel literature dealing with Central Asia, Afghanistan and Siberia recently. Almost all of it is better written and more informative than most of the English language academic literature recently published on the history of these regions.

I have not got anything written in the last couple days on the book project. But, I did find some stuff on the Volga Germans from 1917 to 1920 thanks to Viktor Krieger's Russian language website. It might be enough to get a rough draft of Catherine's Grandchildren finished. At anyrate it will help considerably. I also found some interesting stuff on his website regarding the demography of the Russian-Germans under Soviet rule and the 1979 riots by ethnic Kazakhs against creating a German Autonomous Oblast in Kazakhstan. These last events are a pretty minor part of my chapter on the 1970s. They are never the less an interesting example of just how messed up Soviet nationality policies really were in practice.

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