The Black Sea – Neal Ascherson

I chanced upon this in one of Hereford’s second hand bookshops (Hay doesn’t have them all!!) and took it with me to Yalta, which is in the Crimea where Neal Ascherson’s excellent anthropological, historical and politcal account of the Black Sea begins.

As Hazel and I visited the greek ruins at Chersonesus (now a seaside surburb of Sevastopol), the Khan’s Palace at Bakchisarai, and the Genoese fortress and Soviet submarine base at Balaclava, and the harbours and hills of Sevastopol, the book offered additional backstory to the excellent information provided by Voyages Jules Verne‘s local guides.

The book is broader in the context than simply the Crimea; Neal Ascherson considers the majority of the Black Sea coast, and it is a fascinating part of the world, a real melting pot of peoples for millennia, and only in very recent history has it become perceived as a frontier between ‘east’ and ‘west’, ‘barbarian’ and ‘civilisation’.

Buy it: Amazon link