Black Sea

Neal Ascherson

Hill and Wang



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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In this study of the fateful encounters between Europe and Asia on the shores of the legendary Black Sea, Ascherson explores the disputed meanings of community, nationhood, history, and culture in a region famous for its dramatic conflicts. What makes the Back Sea cultures distinctive, Ascherson argues, is the way their component parts came together over the millennia to shape unique societies, languages, religions, and trade systems. With skill, erudition, and persuasiveness, the author shows how and why Black Sea cultural patterns in the Caucasus, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Turkey, and Greece have linked the peoples of Europe and Asia for centuries.


Praise for Black Sea

"A searching examination of the lands that ring the Black Sea and that were the scenes of some of the most ancient multicultural experiences of human history . . . rich both in historical data and in interpretation . . . with something to learn on every page. With ethnic conflicts much in the headlines, Mr. Ascherson's portrait of a place whose chief characteristic is the durability of its many ethnic identities comes at the right moment."—Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

"History and time and place flow together [in this] superb, encompassing story of the Black Sea region."—Mary Lee Settle, Los Angeles Times

"To say it at once: this is a superb book, beautifully written, evocative, learned, and deeply subtle."—Timothy Garton Ash, The Times Literary Supplement

"A beautifully written meditation on nationality, colonialism, nomadism and the settled life, which goes back to the beginning of the human world and traces the fortunes of the Aegean and Mediterranean traders who squeezed up through the Bosporus to do business with the steppe societies of the huge Black Sea hinterland."—Karl Miller, San Francisco Review of Books

"Brimming with . . . urgent argument: about culture, national identity, the misuse of history, archaeology, the co-existence of different peoples, the responsibility of intellectuals . . . not a boring or badly written paragraph in it."—Noel Malcolm, The London Sunday Telegraph

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Neal Ascherson

  • Neal Ascherson, a leading British scholar-journalist, writes for The Independent in London and The New York Review of Books. He is the author of Polish August and The Struggle for Poland, among other books. He lives in London.