Dear Members and Friends,
Due to circumstances beyond our control, Owen Matthews will not be able to
address the society on Thursday, 4 November 2010, as planned. A new date
has been agreed for March 2011 and this will be announced in the Winter
Programme of Guest Speakers that will be posted out with the December
issue of the East-West Review.
We are very grateful to Sir John Ure for agreeing to bring foward his
talk, originally planned for 2011, which will be given in place of Owen's
– so it's business as usual, but with a different speaker! Sir John Ure's
talk will be both original and fascinating.
We are sorry for this change of plan. If you have already booked for 4
November and would like to attend Sir John Ure's talk, then you need do
nothing – your booking will stand. If you have booked for Owen Matthews
and would not wish to attend Sir John's talk, then please let us know and
we will credit you with the booking fee. You can rebook for Owen when the
new programme is published in December.
Alterations have been made to our website and for your convenience, I
include a description here of Sir John's talk.
'Spying out Central Asia in the Great Game'
Sir John Ure will speak about his recent book 'Shooting Leave', which
describes the adventures of young British officers in the nineteenth
century who were sent out – under the pretence of being on sporting
shooting expeditions – to spy out the passes through the Hindu Kush and
the Pamirs, and carry out secret diplomatic missions to the khans and
emirs of Central Asia. The purpose was to frustrate the military
intentions of tsarist Russia to overrun Samarkand, Bokhara, Khiva and
other independent khanates and emirates in Central Asia, and so to impinge
on and threaten the frontiers of the British raj in India.
Some of these dashing young officers were well known in their day, and
others have only come to light as a result of the author’s researches; all
are portrayed as characters in their own right. The Russians were sending
out their own aristocratic young officers on similar missions, and Sir
John recounts some of their adventures, too.
With Afghanistan continuing to be in the news, the exploits of these
adventurers have a direct relevance to today’s events. This is the real
world of such fictional characters as Kipling’s Kim, John Buchan’s heroes
and Flashman villains.
Sir John himself travelled widely in Afghanistan and Central Asia at the
height of the Cold War – often shadowed by the KGB – when he was serving
as a diplomat at the British Embassy in Moscow, and he brings his
experiences to bear on the comparison between the Great Game and the Cold
War. He went on to be ambassador in Cuba, Brazil and Sweden, and is the
author of a dozen well-received and widely translated travel and
historical books, including a history of the Cossacks.
Copies of Sir John Ure’s exciting book will be available for purchase and
signing immediately after his talk.
Best wishes to all,
Dr David Holohan.