The best books describing the Great Game

Who am I?

I have travelled much of the area described in this book, including the two halves of what was once Turkestan, and on the Roof of the World which divides them. I collect old maps and books (including historical fiction titles) about the exploration of the region and the machinations of the Great Game. My book is the result of four years of research and writing.


I wrote...

Mapping the Great Game: Explorers, Spies and Maps in 19th-Century Asia

By Riaz Dean,

Book cover of Mapping the Great Game: Explorers, Spies and Maps in 19th-Century Asia

What is my book about?

The first need of an army in a strange land is a reliable map. So, when Great Britain and Imperial Russia faced off in Central Asia during the 19th century, it became a top priority to chart parts of the region previously left blank on maps. This book follows the explorers, spies and map-makers who braved the dangers of travel and terrain in order to create maps of Afghanistan, Turkestan and Tibet; thus enabling the Great Game to be played. The five informative maps and many images contained in the book help bring their true story to life.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia

Riaz Dean Why did I love this book?

This is one of the best popular history books describing the Great Game and is regularly referenced by later writers, including more serious works of history. Written in a truly engaging and exciting style by a former journalist turned accomplished author, it is also very thorough (562 pages) and covers the full historical spectrum as the game played itself out. It is a beautifully produced book with five hand-drawn maps and many illustrations and photographs.

By Peter Hopkirk,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Great Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE GREATGAME: THE EPIC STORY BEHIND TODAY'S HEADLINES

Peter Hopkirk's spellbinding account of the great imperial struggle for supremacy in Central Asoa has been hailed as essential reading with that era's legacy playing itself out today.

The Great Game between Victorian Britain and Tsarist Russia was fought across desolate terrain from the Caucasus to China, over the lonely passes of the Parmirs and Karakorams, in the blazing Kerman and Helmund deserts, and through the caravan towns of the old Silk Road-both powers scrambling to control access to the riches of India and the East. When play first began, the frontiers…


Book cover of Playing the Great Game: A Victorian Cold War

Riaz Dean Why did I love this book?

This is a shorter book by a well-established historian, who nevertheless writes in an accessible manner for the general reader. It is a good introductory text to the Great Game and contains a good map of the region and several illustrations and photographs.

By Michael Edwardes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Playing the Great Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this era of Cyber Warfare, it's great to compare with the original Khyber Warfare


Book cover of Anglo-Russian Rivalry in Central Asia 1810-1895

Riaz Dean Why did I love this book?

This is a medium-length book by another well-established historian, who writes in a reasonably accessible manner. His is a more in-depth treatment of the Great Game, aided by Geoffrey Wheeler, an expert on Central Asia, who wrote the book’s Epilogue. It contains three maps and appendices (but no illustrations).

By Gerald Morgan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anglo-Russian Rivalry in Central Asia 1810-1895 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Published in 1981, Anglo-Russian Rivalry in Central Asia 1810-1895 is a valuable contribution to the field of Middle Eastern Studies.


Book cover of Kim (1901) by: Rudyard Kipling

Riaz Dean Why did I love this book?

Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907, Kipling immortalized the phrase ‘the Great Game’ in what was a masterpiece of writing and surely one of the best-loved English language novels of all time. His fictional portrayal of the Great Game forever touched it with a flavor of imperial romance.

By Rudyard Kipling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kim (1901) by as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born Joseph Rudyard Kipling 30 December 1865 Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India Died 18 January 1936 (aged 70) Middlesex Hospital, London, England, United Kingdom Resting place Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, London Occupation Short story writer, novelist, poet, journalist Nationality British Genre Short story, novel, children's literature, poetry, travel literature, science fiction


Book cover of Flashman

Riaz Dean Why did I love this book?

This often-hilarious bestseller, which went on to spawn a dozen Flashman novels in total, is a thoroughly enjoyable read. It represents historical fiction at its best, covering the Great Game, the region (India and Central Asia), and the era (British Raj).

By George MacDonald Fraser,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Flashman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For George MacDonald Fraser the bully Flashman was easily the most interesting character in Tom Brown's Schooldays, and imaginative speculation as to what might have happened to him after his expulsion from Rugby School for drunkenness ended in 12 volumes of memoirs in which Sir Harry Paget Flashman - self-confessed scoundrel, liar, cheat, thief, coward -'and, oh yes, a toady' - romps his way through decades of nineteenth-century history in a swashbuckling and often hilarious series of military and amorous adventures. In Flashman the youthful hero, armed with a commission in the 11th Dragoons, is shipped to India, woos and…


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By Helena P. Schrader,

Book cover of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

Helena P. Schrader Author Of Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

New book alert!

Who am I?

I first went to Berlin after college, determined to write a novel about the German Resistance; I stayed a quarter of a century. Initially, the Berlin Airlift, something remembered with pride and affection, helped create common ground between me as an American and the Berliners. Later, I was commissioned to write a book about the Airlift and studied the topic in depth. My research included interviews with many participants including Gail Halvorsen. These encounters with eyewitnesses inspired me to write my current three-part fiction project, Bridge to Tomorrow. With Russian aggression again threatening Europe, the story of the airlift that defeated Soviet state terrorism has never been more topical. 

Helena's book list on the Russian blockade of Berlin and the Allied Airlift

What is my book about?

It is 1948 in Berlin. The economy is broken, the currency worthless, and the Russian bear is preparing to swallow its next victim. In the ruins of Hitler's capital, former RAF officers and a woman pilot start an air ambulance company that offers a glimmer of hope. Yet when a Soviet fighter brings down a British airliner, Berlin becomes a flashpoint. The world teeters on the brink of World War Three.

Award-winning novelist Helena P. Schrader tells the backstory of the Berlin Airlift in Cold Peace, the first book of the Bridge to Tomorrow series.

Cold Peace: A Novel of the Berlin Airlift, Part I

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