This underground classic tells the story of oil-rich Azerbaijan's first years of independence from Moscow. Goltz's vivid, personal account, filled with memorable portraits of individuals in high places and low, carries the reader from the battlefront to the oilfield, the voting booth to the negotiating table, always with an astute sense of how it all fits into the geopolitical firmament.
In its first years as an independent state, the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan was a prime example of post-Soviet chaos -- beset by coups and civil strife, and losing the Karabakh war of secession, with a fifth of its territory occupied by Armenian troops. Azerbaijan may be endowed with vast oil reserves, but it also bestrides one of the greatest ethnic, religious, and political faultlines in the world.
Thomas Goltz became an accidental witness to Azerbaijan's inglorious history-in-the- making when he was detoured into Baku in mid-1991 -- and decided to stay. This record of his years there alternates in style between tragedy and farce. Throughout, the intensity of immediate experience is balanced by an acute awareness of contemporaneous events in Karabakh and Nakhjivan, Georgia and Armenia, Russia and Chechnya, Iran and Turkey, Washington and Houston.