The Great Game (Peter Hopkirk book)
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|The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia|
|Original title||The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia|
|Publisher||John Murray/Kodansha International|
|1990/May 15, 1992|
The Great Game was played between Tsarist Russia and Victorian Britain for supremacy in Central Asia. At stake was the security of India, key to the wealth of the British Empire. When play began early in the 19th century, the frontiers of the two imperial powers lay two thousand miles apart, across vast deserts and almost impassable mountain ranges; by the end, only 20 miles separated the two rivals.
After the fall of Kabul to Afghan mujahideen forces in 1992, the last Soviet-backed president of Afghanistan, Mohammad Najibullah, sought refuge in the capital's UN compound. In 1996, when the Taliban took the city, they promptly seized and murdered him. However, during his time at the UN compound, he began translating The Great Game into his mother tongue Pashto, so that "They [Afghans] can see how our history has repeated itself...Only if we understand our history can we take steps to break the cycle". Years later, Hopkirk was quoted as saying, "I’m not sure what became of Najibullah’s translation...I know that it found its way to India where his wife and children had been given asylum. Sadly, after that the trail goes cold.”