THE BLACK SEA is at once a homage to an ocean and its shores and an amazingly readable meditation on Eurasian history from the earliest times to the present. It evokes the culture, history and politics of the volatile region which surrounds the Black Sea. Ascherson recalls the world of Herodotus and Aeschylus; Ovid's place of exile on what is now the coast of Romania; the decline and fall of Byzantium; the mysterious fastness of the Chrisian Goths; the Tatar Khanates; the growth of Russian power across the grasslands, and the centuries of war between Ottoman and Russian Empires around the Black Sea; and in our own century the terrors of Stalinism and its fascist enemy, striving for mastery of these endlessly colourful and complex shores. This is a story of Greeks, Scythians, Samatians, Huns, Goths, Turks, Russian and Poles. This is the sea where Europe ended. It is the place where 'barbarism' was born.
Neal Ascherson was born in Edinburgh. He reported from Asia, Africa and Central Europe for the Observer, where he later began a celebrated weekly column in the Independent on Sunday. Journalist of the year in 1986, Ascherson's books include Games with Shadows, The Polish August and The King Incorporated, Black Sea was joint winner of the 1995 Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award.