Highlanders by Yo'av Karny
A Journey to the Caucasus in Quest of Memory

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Synopsis

Many dire predictions followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, but nowhere have they materialized as dramatically as in the Caucasus:insurrection, civil wars, ethnic conflicts, economic disintegration, and up to two million refugees. Moreover, in the 1990s Russia twice went to war in the Caucasus, and suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of a population small enough to constitute a single district of Moscow. What is it about the Caucasus that makes the region so restless, so unpredictable, so imbued with heroism but also with fanaticism and pain? In Highlanders, Yo'av Karny offers a better understanding of a place described as a "museum of civilizations," where breathtaking landscapes join with an astounding cultural diversity. Karny spent many months among members of some of the smallest ethnic groups on earth, all of them living in the grim shadow of an unhappy empire. But his book is a journey not only to a geographic region but also to darker sides of the human soul, where courage vies with senseless vindictiveness; where honor and duty require people to share the present with long-dead ancestors, some real, some imaginary; and where an ancient way of life is drawing to an end under the combined weight of modernity and intolerance.
 

About Yo'av Karny

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Yo'av Karny has covered international conflicts for Israeli and American publications; his reports on the Caucasus have appeared in The Washington Post and The New York Times, and his commentaries have been heard on public radio and television.
 
Published October 1, 2000 by Farrar Straus Giroux. 448 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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And as those wars drag on, Karny says, the less powerful cultures of the Caucasus will inevitably decline as they’re bled dry by more powerful foes: “Spotted owls may survive deforestation in the American Northwest, rare plants may be saved in the rainforests of Madagascar or Brazil,” he writes, ...

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They share, suggests Karny, ""an astounding perseverance a dogged sense of pride irrational pursuits of liberty."" These, he writes, are the characteristics of mountain-dwellers, whose attitude is shaped by altitude and whose chivalrous folklore has been co-opted by imperial plain-dwellers from...

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