This remarkable story of Russia, based on the author's 40 years of travel and study in Central Asia and the Caucasus, makes the country come alive. Blood-stained and tumultuous, Russia has come down through the ages to emerge in the 20th century as a giant in chains. The author plays guide, philosopher and friend to the traveler--armchair or otherwise. Russia's past bears strongly on her present and, by extension, on her future. This striking continuity, together with its implications, forms the central theme of this intriguing and readable book.