The Armenian historian Agathangelos compared writing to a sea journey: Both writers and sailors willingly put themselves in peril and return home eager to tell stories about what they have encountered. I now understand what he meant.
More than once in this project, I stepped where I should not have gone. I loped into the gutted shell of a mosque in Nagorno-Karabakh, only later noticing the casing of a rocket-propelled grenade and wondering whether its unexploded colleagues might still be around. I jumped with equal abandon into the history of the Black Sea, knowing a lot about some of it, a little about more, and nothing about a great deal. The whole journey has been an instructive one, which is the point of writing anyway, and I am deeply grateful to all those who helped me along the way.
Dominic Byatt, my editor at Oxford University Press, got excited about the project when it was just an idea and, with Claire Croft, saw it through to the end. Susan Ferber in the New York office offered sage advice at a crucial point. Hakan and Ayşe Gül Altinay provided a wonderful retreat, the back room of their apartment on the Bosphorus, where I first thought about the book's broad outlines.
Most of the text was researched and written beneath the statue of Herodotus in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress—there is no place like it—and I am very grateful to the library's professional staff, including those in the Prints and Photographs Division, the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room, the Geography and Map Reading Room, the Africa and Middle East Reading Room, and the European Reading Room, in particular Grant Harris. The staff of the Hoover Institution archives, especially the director, Elena S. Danielson, were outstanding. Librarians and archivists at Georgetown University, the British Library, the Public Record Office (London), the Library of the Romanian Academy (Bucharest), the Central Historical Archive (Bucharest), and the Piłsudski Institute of America (New York) were generous with their time. Chris Robinson drew the maps.
I benefited from several seminars and conferences at which pieces of this book were presented, but I thank especially Nicholas Breyfogle, Abby Schrader, and Willard Sunderland, who allowed me to intrude on a conclave of Russian historians at Ohio State University in September 2001. The Fulbright fellowship program and Georgetown University made possible extended trips through the