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In the Mountains of Poetry

Cave City of Vardzia – a monastery founded in 1185. Photo: Peter Nasmyth
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
ESI

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  10. Nis: War Capital, 1915
  11. Belgrade and the Selenites
  12. 1996: Serbia Calling
  13. Belgrade Train Station - 1964
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  15. Srebrenica: Blood
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  70. In the Mountains of Poetry