For more than a decade, I taught an area studies course at the Foreign Service Institute that focused on Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. My students were US diplomats, military staff, and government workers headed to assignments in the Caucasus. Several classes focused on the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the First World War, and Armenia.
Folklore scholar David Hunt has assembled an anthology of stories that present a fascinating side of the Caucasus rarely encountered by diplomats or students of international relations. He also renders a great service with this collection, culled from 19th and 20th century Russian ethnographic archives and field interviews.
Sometimes it seems as if relations between Turks and Armenians can never improve. Hence, it comes as considerable relief to read Family of Shadows and Deep Mountain. These two works, in different ways, are about change and redemption.
A good rule of thumb for the Caucasus is: “If you think you know what’s going on, just wait a minute.” Then sit down and read recent releases by Thomas de Waal and Oliver Bullough: they provide welcome insights into this most fractious and unpredictable part of the world.