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In the Mountains of Poetry

Cave City of Vardzia â<div id=Cave City of Vardzia – a monastery founded in 1185. Photo: Peter Nasmyth

Today's Georgia can only be understood if it is seen in the light of the events of the past two decades. The very difficult transformation the country went through after it declared its independence in 1991, and the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia which plagued the country since then, still largely shape its present day policies. And nowhere is this better described than in Nasmyth's "Georgia" which is a collection of personal stories of the author and author's friends in Georgia over the years. In his words:

I collected stories of people, very specific ones, through which I tell the bigger story of Georgia over time… I never wanted to write about the political forces here, rather the forces that make the politics. This will always give a book a longer life.

[Interview with Peter Nasmyth, Tbilisi, October 2008]

ESI has written a picture story on this excellent book. It is written and it reads like a novel, yet it is full of facts that give a complete account of Georgia's modern day history. The descriptions are so colourful that reading this book is the next best thing to visiting Georgia yourself. What makes the book special is also that the author has updated the book and added new chapters two times after it was first published in 1998. Here we discuss the 2006 edition which covers the modern history of Georgia up to the events of the Rose Revolution.

Peter Nasmyth is a writer and a publisher. His passion for Georgia was born on his first visit there, in 1989.

I have a genuine affection for Georgia. I am not cynical about the country and this I think helps the understanding. Georgia is not like us (the West) with a desire to be all neat and regulated. Neither is it a shining example of political stability. It is a country proud of its emotional originality and contrariness.

[Interview with Peter Nasmyth, Tbilisi, October 2008]

Georgia: In the Mountains of Poetry. Peter Nasmyth. 2006.
[3rd revised edition / Routledge]

January 2009

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  1. Istanbul: Pamuk's City
  2. Istanbul: Swimming across the Bosphorus
  3. Salonika and the Jews
  4. Salonica: Slaves and Trade
  5. Thessalonika: 1923
  6. Ohrid: Rise and Fall
  7. Tornado of Dust - 1944
  8. Awake Romania - 1989
  9. Novi Sad: Nest of the Serbian nation
  10. Nis: War Capital, 1915
  11. Belgrade and the Selenites
  12. 1996: Serbia Calling
  13. Belgrade Train Station - 1964
  14. Srebrenica: Vengeance
  15. Srebrenica: Blood
  16. Srebrenica: July 1995
  17. Mealtime - Interwar years in Travnik
  18. Dayton: The Napkin Shuttle
  19. London Buses in Sarajevo
  20. The Museum and Bosnian Identity
  21. Foča: The Bosniak
  22. Kosovo: The Swiss Front
  23. Mitrovica: 1908
  24. Pristina: Kosovo like Namibia?
  25. City without traffic - Pristina 1966
  26. Durham in Pristina - 1908
  27. Tirana: 1962
  28. Zog's Tirana
  29. The Kotor - Constantinople Express
  30. Kotor and the Montenegrins
  31. The Rabbi of Stolac
  32. Dubrovnik: England, Wine and Wool
  33. Cetinje: Nikola Under the Elm
  34. Cetinje: 1858
  35. Dalmatia: Ships & Grapes
  36. Prophet of Yugoslavism
  37. The head of the world
  38. 1919: Mushrooms and Lies
  39. Sofia: Bulgaria's Jews during WWII
  40. Zamfirovo: Rural livelihoods in the mid-1990s
  41. Kosovo
  42. Romania: 1914
  43. Istanbul: Food and the frugal Turks
  44. Micklagard: Surprising, cosmopolitan Constantinople
  45. Sukhumi: The history of the region became ashes
  46. Black Sea: The coming of steam and rail
  47. Mestrovic: Motherhood and the Victor
  48. Rizvanovici, Bosnia: Gnashing
  49. Down the Danube with Magris: Ruse
  50. From Pristina to Tskhinvali
  51. Serbia, Historians and Hitler's War
  52. Balkan Strongmen: Bulgaria's Zhivkov
  53. Sarajevo: The Siege Within
  54. Turkey: Osman's Dream
  55. Durres 1961: Beijing on Sea
  56. Cetinje: Eggs for the Ladies
  57. Bosnia: Land of Immigrants
  58. Ottoman Croatia
  59. Harem: All the Sultan's Women
  60. Sibiu: Regime Change, European Style
  61. 1929: The Balkans and the Great Crash
  62. Rumeli and how the Balkans became the Balkans
  63. 1948: Stalin, Kosovo and Swallowing Albania
  64. Transforming Turkey: the 1950s
  65. McMafia and the Balkans
  66. 1916: Serbia in Corfu
  67. Princes Amongst Men
  68. Limp Shevardnadze
  69. Knin: War and Suburbia
  70. In the Mountains of Poetry