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Antony Wynn is the author of Persia and the Great Game: Sir Percy Sykes (John Murray), and Three Camels to Smyrna
The Kirghiz are a semi-nomadic Turki-speaking people from the old Turkistan borderlands of China, old Russia and Afghanistan. Stalin, in a spirit of divide et impera, drew the borders of Kyrgyzstan, as he did with the other Soviet Central Asian republics, right across the ethnic divides, scattering the Kirghiz between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
Kashgar, a desert oasis at the foot of the Pamir Mountains, was pivotal in the struggle between Russia and Britain known as the ‘Great Game’. When the British consul there needed a holiday, the man sent to relieve him was Sir Percy Sykes, explorer, soldier, scholar and spy. Published here for the first time are the amazing photographs Sykes took during his tour of duty in 1915, when he travelled with his sister to the Pamirs and the Taklmakan Desert. Antony Wynn, his biographer, tells the story.
After years of wandering in western China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, a group of Kirghiz have finally made a lasting home in the highlands of eastern Anatolia. The historian Hasan Ali Karasar, who as a boy in Van witnessed their arrival, recounts their extraordinary tale. Photographs by Jonathan Henderson
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