Reviews

Contrary to the first volume of this work, based on varied primary sources, notably Persian documents from Qajar Iran (see my review in Abstracta Iranica 17-19 (1994-6): 137-8), the present one, devoted to the Russian conquest of present-day Turkmenistan and to the early Soviet period of this country’s history, consists for the most part of a second-hand work based on modern studies, notably on notices in Soviet and current Turkmenistan encyclopaedias, besides a little amount of edited and published primary sources (the memoirs by Zeki Velidi, in particular).  The first chapter deals with the last twenty years of the nineteenth century, from the submission of the Turkmens to Russia to the delimitation of the boundaries between the Russian Empire, on the first hand, and Iran and Afghanistan on the other.  This chapter is followed by a study on the economic development of Trans-Caspia during the Tsarist period (notably in terms of its urban expansion), and by another one on the resistance to the Russian domination in the same territory—with an innovative subchapter on the local influence of Russia’s constitutional governments of the years 1905-11.  The next part is devoted partly to the establishment of the Soviet power and to the Turkmens’ involvement in the new political institutions, partly to the continuation of the resistance movements led successively by Junayd Khan Qilich and Dahli Baba during and after wwi.  The last chapter focuses on the formation of the Turkmen SSR and on the emigration of the population of Ming Qishlaq.  The overall two-volume work draws up a historical panorama of Turkmenistan before collectivisation and the ‘Red Terror’ of the mid-1930s, on the basis of a small number of polemic texts as far as the revolutionary and early Soviet periods are concerned.  It is articulated on the Hegelian vision of a continuous and linear historical progress (see for instance the author’s considerations of convergences between Islamic reform and Bolshevik revolution) notwithstanding the bloody ups and downs occasioned regionally by the rivalry between the Russian and British empires.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-3.1.A-160