Mission to Tashkent eBook Ð Mission to Kindle -

Mission to Tashkent 'One of the best books about secret intelligence work ever written' Peter Hopkirk Colonel F M Bailey whose extraordinary adventures are told here was long accused by Moscow of being a British master spy sent in 1918 to overthrow the Bolsheviks in Central Asia As a result he enjoyed many years after his death an almost legendary reputation there that of half hero half villain In this remarkable book he tells of the perilous game of cat and mouse lasting sixteen months which he played with the Bolshevik secret police the dreaded Cheka At one point using a false identity he actually joined the ranks of the latter who unsuspectingly sent him to Bokhara to arrest himself Told with almost breathtaking understatement Bailey's narrative set in a region once back in the headlines reads like vintage Buchan


10 thoughts on “Mission to Tashkent

  1. Daren Daren says:

    This is one of those books that I didn't enjoy and was taken by surprise by thatSet in Central Asia in 1918 1920 mostly in Uzbekistan but also Turkmenistan and Iran as a part of his departure routeThere are a number of possible reasons I didn't enjoy thisThere was a lot about the time the politics and the peoples that I am not familiar with The first world war was in progress Bailey was isolated in Tashkent and playing a game of cat and mouse with a confusing array of people secret agents double agents corruptible people and opportunists In my defence I believe this book was written assuming a level of understanding of the situation that I didn't possess By a uarter of the way through I was thinking I should have read Hopkirks The Great Game On Secret Service in High Asia which might have explained the situation better for me Of course there was the newly established Bolshevik government Germans Serbians Austrians Turks Chinese Persians Indians as well as the British Empire and the Afghani's so a lot going onThe other reason may be the writing style There is no getting around the fact it is presented in a very dry way For such an exciting and risky few years the narrative is remarkably flat There are also many many characters who are mentioned only to disappear returning much later I found I didn't pick up very well what their involvement wasHopkirk himself gives the book high praise writing an introduction and an epilogue which did to explain things that the rest of the book I know also that other reviewers have uestioned the authenticity of the story but although very much against the odds and not without a heavy dose of luck that many of his companions didn't have it was hard to suggest there was an alternative story from reading this bookOn a positive note my copy is a Folio Society edition with a great cover and some excellent photographs Personally I would have benefited from maps there were two small sketched maps which didn't plot any routesI can't really go above 3 stars given how hard I had to battle to keep picking up this book


  2. Rob Rob says:

    An original 007


  3. Ian Burns Ian Burns says:

    This is a great travel book and also a great history book It's an extraordinary narrative of Bailey's time in Central Asia at the end of the first world war but also significantly during the Russian revolution The first half of the book gives a fascinating insight into how the revolution affected the lives of the people on its periphery 2000 miles from the centreBailey never describes himself as a spy but that is certainly how the Bolshevik authorities saw him We follow him through the tangled life he led in Tashkent sleeping in a different house every night to avoid their searches When he eventually escapes Tashkent his story is a fascinating tale of hardship and survival in the desert as he makes his way with his small group to the safety of PersiaThree times he loses the notes for the book each time having to rewrite from memory Yet he does this and tells his story with modesty and charmI read this book in a Folio Society hardback edition that I picked up for £5 in a second hand book shop This edition includes evocative photographs not present in the paperback


  4. Jeroen Van de Crommenacker Jeroen Van de Crommenacker says:

    Real life Great game adventures by Colonel Bailey Writing style slightly clunky and a bit too slow paced for my liking Overall an admirable effort but too little actually happens to keep it interesting


  5. Peter Peter says:

    A gripping tale of intrigue and politics inside the great game Gives an insight into the daily lives of people in the transition to Bolshevism and also the grander picture of power shift at the time Has some slower parts or it would be 5 star


  6. Gary Gary says:

    FM Bailey the Brit than knew Kazakhstan better than the Russians that tried in vain to catch himAmazing historic heroic what a man that blended into landscape and escaped


  7. Sicofonia Sicofonia says:

    Back in 1918 Great Britain was engaged in the WW1 and yet early in 1918 nothing was entirely on Britain's favour In March Bolshevik leaders signed the Brest Litovsk treaty effectively ending Russia's involvement in the war This meant a big blow for the Entente interests removing a second front that had many German soldiers committed toDuring the course of the war Russia had made thousands of prisoners from the Central Powers armies and they were all scattered across the Russian lands Fearing that with the new treaty all these soldiers might get back to their former armies and streghten its enemies Britain deployed many secret agents along Russian to prevent that from happeningOne of these agents was Frederick Eric Bailey At the beginning of his career he first worked for the British secret services A capable man he was fluent in several Central Asian languages and just the right person to take on a mission to Tashkent This book I'm reviewing now relates that mission of hisAccording to Bailey he was sent to Tashkent to make three reuests to the Bolsheviks authorities; that is the numerous Austrian prisoners of war ought to be controlled cotton essential constituent of war munitions ought not to be sold to the Central Powers and Bolshevik authorities ought to stop harassing British citizens in TurkestanThat was all Bailey was willing to concede as far as his mission went After he made these three reuests he stayed in Tashkent observing events and meddling with internal affairs It was then when Bolsheviks thought he might have been an agent provocateur and decided to arrest himAfter his arrest Bailey realized he was not safe any and resolved to make it to the mountains in an effort to disappear from the city Disguised as an Austrian prisoner of war he wandered for as long as one year in Tashkent and its surroundings And this is where his story starts to smellIf he was on a mission to influence Bolshevik authorities to make decisions on a certain direction why was he hiding? If he was in fear of getting shot as he stated multiple times in the book why did it take him than one year to decide to go on the run and leave Turkestan? Could that not be the reason that he was up for something else? That his truly purpose was to cause unrest in the area?Nearly a hundred years have elapsed since these events took place And it's common knowledge that during the Russian Civil War Britain was on the side and actively supported the White RussiansSo we are left with a wishy washy story with very little of the so promised intrigue that so pompously this book is supposed to offer As most of the recollection of the events have to do with Bailey's wanderingsOne thing is of interest though Bailey's account gives us a picture of the Russian Revolution proceedings in such a distant land from Moscow as Turkestan A lot has been written on the Russian Revolution especially about its development in Russia's biggest cities With Bailey's story we will get to know how these events affected the citizens of Turkestan No matter how biased Bailey wasUnimpressive work at any rate


  8. Relstuart Relstuart says:

    Don't you hate it when you infiltrate the enemies spy service and then they send you to find and arrest yourself? Well that really happened to this British diplomat who spent a significant amount of time dodging the Bolsheviks in Teshkent who probably would have killed him if they caught him It's great being reminded about the horrors of communism every once and again as it's easy to forget how terrible it must be to live under such social agony For instance he mentioned a couple who were arrested He was sentenced to three years in prison for saying something negative about the state The wife was sentenced to a year in jail for failing to denounce him when he said it How would you like to live in a society like that? This takes place from 1918 to 1921ish


  9. Dennis Boccippio Dennis Boccippio says:

    A very enjoyable read I first stumbled across Bailey in Hopkirk's Setting the East Ablaze and greatly enjoyed taking the time to detour into his source material As a story or tale I'd rate this five star as a piece of writing good but not overwhelming hence the overall four star Bailey's first hand account of Tashkent during the Bolshevik takeover is fascinating and his subseuent escape through Bokhara to Persia a nice adventure tale in and of itself told with the occasional terse and wry humor of a British explorerspydiplomat of this era


  10. Kristin Kearns Kristin Kearns says:

    I happened upon this book while scouring the library for background reading before a trip to Uzbekistan It's a wild swashbuckling and apparently genuine double and triple agent first person spy thriller ranging far and wide across the shifting boundaries of the British Empire A bit dated in language but once you get past that it's good fun


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