Book Review: The Great Game

Updated 14 April 2018
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Book Review: The Great Game

While everyone knows about the Cold War of the 20th century, little is known about its 19th-century version — the battle between Tsarist Russia and Victorian Britain for supremacy in Central Asia, otherwise known as The Great Game. At stake was the jewel in the British Empire, India. Weary of Russian encroachment, the British set about mapping and gaining influence in the little-known hinterlands between the territories of the two great powers. When play first began, the frontiers of Russia and British India lay more than 3,000 kilometers apart; by the end, this distance had shrunk to 30 kilometers at some points.
In this book Peter Hopkirk brings to life the grand imperial struggle across great mountain ranges and vast deserts. He recounts colorful tales of espionage and treachery, of brave men from both sides taking part in barely believable adventures.
The tale is as good as any blockbuster movie. But while at its heart it is an exciting work of narrative history, it is also a hugely relevant for today’s geopolitics. It acts as a warning of what happens when mistrust between great powers goes unchallenged.


What We Are Reading Today: Varoufakis on how Marx predicted our present crisis

Updated 23 April 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Varoufakis on how Marx predicted our present crisis

‘Marx predicted our present crisis and points the way out,’  writes Yanis Varoufakis in The Guardian’s Long Read Series.

Most people think communism has been consigned to the dustbin of history, but Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister, goes back to the source and examines “The Communist Manifesto,” written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and published in 1848.

Varoufakis said the book remains unsurpassed as a work of literature that foresaw the predatory global capitalism of the 21st century.

“Today, a similar dilemma faces young people: conform to an established order that is crumbling and incapable of reproducing itself, or oppose it, at considerable personal cost, in search of new ways of working, playing and living together?” Varoufakis wrote. “Even though communist parties have disappeared almost entirely from the political scene, the spirit of communism driving the manifesto is proving hard to silence.”

Marx and Engels forecast that a powerful minority would prove “unfit to rule” over polarized societies.

“The manifesto gives its 21st-century reader an opportunity to see through this mess and to recognize what needs to be done so that the majority can escape from discontent into new social arrangements,” Varoufakis said.