What emerge are essentially three stories. Armenia is trapped in time, unable to capture the true potential of its entrepreneurial population until it can re-engage with neighbors like Turkey -- where rapprochement has finally, if haltingly, begun -- and Azerbaijan, where animosities remain fresh. Azerbaijan, which, as few know, became the world's first Muslim democracy just after the First World War and again, ephemerally, after the Soviet Union's collapse, is close to tapping out its oil wealth and is sliding toward autocracy with apparent increasing intensity. Georgia, meanwhile, has come the closest to embracing democracy -- albeit with passionate lurches in the wrong direction from time to time. It has made strides to enact key reforms and lift its 4 million citizens from poverty, though the effect of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on its dream of territorial integrity remains searing and, as Russia's recent invasion points out, persistent hot zones.De Waal is fantastic, and this book will certainly be worth your while.
Posted by Steve S at 12:16 AM