Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan: travel books to read before you go


This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

The Caucasus has inspired brilliant creative and travel writing for two centuries.

Adventures in the Caucasus. Alexander Dumas travelled through the region in 1858, just as the Russians were subduing Imam Shamil’s revolt, and wrote a colourful, amusing account of his journeys.

Ali and Nino. Kurban Said’s wonderful story of a love affair between an Azeri Muslim and a Georgian Christian a century ago, full of the atmosphere of oil-boom Baku and fascinating in its observations of the Europe-Asia dichotomy.

Azerbaijan Diary and Georgia Diary. Reporter Thomas Goltz conveys the bizarre atmosphere of the post-Soviet period in these two countries, with some very shrewd political analysis.

Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War. Thomas De Waal, a long-time journalist covering the former USSR, gives a highly detailed, rather dry account of the brutal Karabakh war, which ruined Armenia and Azerbaijan in the early 1990s.

Bread and Ashes. Tony Davidson walks the Caucasus from Azerbaijan to Georgia, and explores countless fascinating cultural and historical angles along the way.

The Crossing Place: A Journey among the Armenians. A stunning evocation of the 20th-century Armenian catastrophe and survival by Philip Marsden.

A Hero of Our Time. Mikhail Lermontov’s 1840 masterpiece about a bored, cynical Russian officer in the Caucasus was the first, and shortest, great Russian novel. An indirect comment on the stifling climate of the times, it’s also strangely relevant today.

The New Great Game: Blood and Oil in Central Asia. Lutz Kleveman details the Machiavellian power plays between the US, Russia, local barons and Big Oil in the Caspian Sea oil and gas bonanza.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.