Edge of Empires

A History of Georgia

Donald Rayfield

Edge of Empires

Donald Rayfield

Distributed for Reaktion Books

479 pages | 40 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2012
Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9781780230306 Published December 2012 For sale in North and South America only
Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, Georgia is a country of rainforests and swamps, snow and glaciers, and semi-arid plains. It has ski resorts and mineral springs, monuments and an oil pipeline. It also has one of the longest and most turbulent histories in the Christian or Near Eastern world, but no comprehensive, up-to-date account has been written about this little-known country—until now. Remedying this omission, Donald Rayfield accesses a mass of new material from recently opened archives to tell Georgia’s absorbing story.
Beginning with the first intimations of the existence of Georgians in ancient Anatolia and ending with today’s volatile President Saakashvili, Rayfield deals with the country’s internal politics and swings between disintegration and unity, and divulges Georgia’s complex struggles with the empires that have tried to control, fragment, or even destroy it. He describes the country’s conflicts with Xenophon’s Greeks, Arabs, invading Turks, the Crusades, Genghis Khan, the Persian Empire, the Russian Empire, and Soviet totalitarianism. A wide-ranging examination of this small but colorful country, its dramatic state-building, and its tragic political mistakes, Edge of Empires draws our eyes to this often overlooked nation.


1. The Emergence of the Kartvelians
2. The Origins of the Kingdom of Kartli
3. Conversion
4. The Arab Conquest
5. Unification
6. Davit the Builder
7. Demetre and Giorgi III
8. Queen Tamar
9. Mongol Invasion
10. The Fractured State
11. Timur Lang and the Destruction of Georgia
12. Fratricide
13. King Teimuraz I
14. Teimuraz Dispossessed
15. The Eighteenth Century
16. The Russian Conquest of Kartli-Kakhetia
17. King Solomon’s End
18. Vice-regency
19. Reaction and Revolution
20. Independence
21. Soviet Annexation
22. After Stalin
23. Independence Restored

Maps and Dynastic Trees
Select Bibliography

Review Quotes
Tony Barber, Financial Times
“Donald Rayfield’s panoramic Edge of Empires is an impressive work that helps us understand why this south Caucasus nation of 6.4m people lodged in a hostile and unstable neighbourhood looks so longingly to the West. . . . Edge of Empires is the most wide-ranging and reliable history of Georgia one is likely to find for many years to come.”
The Economist
“[An] ambitious and comprehensive history of a complex country. . . . Mr. Rayfield’s powerful theme is of brief periods of prosperity and security, ended by invasion, conquest, looting and despoliation.”
"Books of the Year," Financial Times
 “The most comprehensive and up-to-date history of Georgia available in English. This tour de force explains why the small south Caucasus nation looks longingly to the west. A work of consummate erudition from Britain’s foremost expert on Georgian history and literature.”
“Rayfield offers the most comprehensive and detailed survey history of the country of Georgia to date. . . . An excellent and indispensable reference for libraries, studies, researchers, and general readers. Essential.”
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