“In the shade of the taken-down wall”
28 March, 2013
“In the shade of the taken-down wall”
There is a new book on the shelves! “In the shade of the taken-down wall’ is a political scientist’s story of the 1990’s which could successfully be used as a handy text-book for students of history and political analysts, saying nothing about the wider rank-and-file readership. Author Zurab I. Abashidze is in his elements – truth, depth and wit all in place! His dad, late Irakli Abashidze is a prominent Georgian poet and public figure, venerated by his beloved people.
No wonder, the son Abashidze also wanted to be a man of letters, only trying his pen not in poesy but in political philosophy. Actually, I have never read a political non-fiction which has impressed me with an emotional power of a regular high quality fiction. I had momentarily imbibed the work’s surrealistic introduction with an overwhelming pleasure. The author’s exciting political grotesque, which immerses the reader in his wildly hypothetical narration of history of the years in question, augmented my imagination to the extent of hysterical mirth, accompanying every single page of that tantalizing intro. The most memorable political events of the roaring nineties are methodically lined up in the book with a tone of a slightly felt latent rebuke, addressed to the befuddled mankind for the way it had behaved in those years of painful changes, destructive politicking and abundant bloodshed. The book is full of outrageous paradigms of modern human atrocities. Abashidze outlines that part of history with an exceptionally acute sense of facts, putting every one of them through his own heart and mind with a visibly knowledgeable approach of a political scientist, being privy to the described momentous events. He is not tiring us with teaching history as such; he is just telling us a story with a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ attitude, which makes the book even more eye-catching and easier to read, masterfully using a grass-roots language mixed with ambitious scientific parlance in this fresh page-turner. The witty quips and quizzical observations are strewn over the pages so profusely that you don’t even have to wait long to enjoy every next one. In a word, this book is not only a book by him – it is him, simply him, the Zuriko Abashidze.
What is it after all? It is a compact pocket book on our recent history, written in good time and delivered to the reader as a piece of indispensable heads-up for us to understand that it is high time for humankind to put its act together or else we will soon be done with. To cut it short, if we need to know history at all, give us books like this to learn history without any sense of indolence and procrastination. Abashidze’s “In the shade of the taken-down wall’ is a perfect memo for all of us to remember that the overall human happiness around the globe is in our hands but we usually let it go because of our unintelligent and inhuman judgments. Why do we need so many costly historical lessons if we never learn from them? The parallels drawn in the book for Georgia are so valuable for making our future decisions that I cannot help learning them by heart in case the fortune has it for me to someday be one of those decision makers in this country. Please don’t get me wrong!
Collapse of the Soviet Union, Desert Storm, German Wall, Yugoslavia, International Terrorism, Conflicts, Monopolar World, Kosovo Incident and Matrioshka Syndrome – the entire gamut of the most important political events of the 90’s of the last century is embedded in the book, standing out with perfect narrative and thorough analysis, balanced with the author’s habitual temperate manner of presentation and moderate style of interpretation. The two previous monographs by Zurab I. Abashidze ‘NATO & Georgia: from utopia to reality’ and ‘The Cold War: past & present’ are marked with exactly the same manner of writing although the last one — the subject of our discussion — has suggested freer flight of thought and mightier wings to fly.
What deserved our special attention are the author’s philosophical comments on history in general, offered in the chapter titled ‘The end of history or the new era of confrontation’. Allusion to the works by famous authors like Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Sam Huntington and Zbigniew Brzezinski trigger serious meditation on man’s behavior on the planet, the consideration of which gives us a chance to make certain optimal decisions about our further life on that planet. The Georgian people could certainly use the thoughts presented in the book to this extent. The delicately and skillfully used juxtapositions made by the author will serve as vectors along which this nation’s further thoughts and decisions will be gliding wisely and smoothly.
As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible to come up with considerable critique of the book, but when speaking about globalization, I would definitely mention Tomas Friedman’s name next to the above mentioned eminent authors. The name index would also be very helpful at the end of the book which is very seldom found in Georgian editions of the sort in general. The number of typos is clearly negligible.
Finally, it would be extremely expeditious to have “In the shade of the taken-down wall’ by Zurab I. Abashidze translated into English and Russian languages without any delay and into others in the long run. Books like this do a lot of good, so to speak: they inform, they instruct, they entertain, they caution and they counsel. What else can mass medium like a book can do! It also gives a firm ground for working out a political position if you need one, which is significant for a participant in the political processes, taking place in this country and in the world. The chapter titled ‘Matrioshka Syndrome’ has to be made the subject of undelayed translation into all main languages of the globe in order for the nations of the world to enjoy uncannily practicable instructions for handling Russia as a global player. Abashidze’s observations on the Russian social and political character are simply irreplaceable if you want to know how to tame the bear. I am not surprised that Abashidze came up with those valuable observations – he has after all ten years of ambassadorial experience in Russia under his belt.
Ambassador Zurab I. Abashidze is currently a functioning civil servant, working as Georgian government’s commissioner for matters concerning Russia. If anybody needs his new book as a guide in work, it is him in the first place. He has definitely managed to compress long years of history into seconds, the best reflection of which is the story of 1990-1999, the years so much resembling our remoter past and so differing from it with political particularity. Not in vain, the author uses his great father’s poetic words as an epigraph to one of the chapters of the book: ‘a minute – at times, sometimes – a century’. Irakli Abashidze was probably looking at his poetic crystal ball when chiseling those precious words into history. Like father, like son! Zurab I. Abashidze has certainly justified the poet’s philosophical stance with his powerful logic and adherence to the logic of the naked truth. Now the question is how valuable that truth is for all of us the humans to keep in mind, and for the author’s fellow countrymen to use it at the moment of crossing the Rubicon . . . And the number of crucial crossing points for Georgia in the future looks scary. As for Zurab I. Abashidze personally, I am more than confident that he knows how to handle the truth with his customary cautiousness and sagacity, even in a matter of seconds, when handling the truth well is inevitable.

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