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This is a fascinating book about a character I had never heard of. The story itself is so odd the while reading this book I felt like I was actually reading some strange fantasy novel instead of history. What made me realize that it was history was the fact that there were only villans in this story, there are no heroes here.
For those of us in the west who are taught nothing about this part of the world and little at all about this period of history it is truly eye opening. Palmer lays out a great deal of information to bring the background of this story to life. His own knowledge of the area helps to illuminate many parts of the book. His wit is the typically dry British style. He paints a vivid picture of Tibetan/Mongolian buddhism. His portrait is honest, painfully so with those of us only familiar with the Hollywood version.
The stories of brutality by all sides in this story is enough to make one’s hair stand on end. With the fall and the discrediting of communism it is now possible to air the truth about what happened in much of the world that suffered under its tyranny. The epilogue of the book, which covers the period of Mongolia after the communist takeover, shows the extreme brutality and cultural rape that accompanied that system.
The book is well written and the topic is fascinating. As a historian I regret that there is not more source material on this subject. This is not the fault of the author, rather it is the simple absence of much reliable original material on this subject. The only warning that I will give is that many types of brutality were committed by all sides and you will here about it.
Stefan Rudnicki does an excellent job of narrating the book. It was a lot of fun to listen to.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Despite the sketchy reviews, I decided to buy this book, since I am interested in the subject matter. There is precious little verifiable information about The Baron, he was one of those crazy historical figures that inspired much speculation and many stories. If one views this book as an interesting account of the possible adventures of a minor historical figure, one still might enjoy the work. Not the best narrator in the world, but the recording quality is fine. All in all, decent entertainment for those folks interested in Russia and Central Asia. Caveat, some Buddhists might find the way the author deals with Buddhism a little patronizing.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful