Silk and secrets mary jo putney

Mary Jo Putney

To the memory of my father, Laverne Putney.
A reader and lover of history, he would have adored
The fact that I have become a writer and would have
Wanted me to write a book about the Civil War.
Maybe someday, Pop.

O Western wind, when wilt thou blow. That the small rain down can rain? Christ, that my love were in my arms, And I in my bed again!
– Anonymous, c.1530
As a child, I was always fascinated by the blank areas of the map that are the mysterious heart of Asia. For two thousand years these remote, dangerous lands were traversed by caravans following the Silk Road, the trade routes that stretched from China to ancient Rome. The names of oasis cities like Samarkand, Bokhara, and Kashgar breathe romance.
Central Asia is sometimes called Turkestan, for many of the diverse peoples speak Turkic languages such as Uzbek and Turkoman. It was the home of the nomadic barbarian hordes that for centuries swept eastward into China and westward into Asia Minor and Europe, destroying and conquering more peaceful agrarian civilizations. Eastern Turkestan is now the Chinese province called Singkiang, while western Turkestan includes the Soviet Central Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tadzhikistan, Kirghizia, and Kazakhstan.
South of the belt of Turkic languages lies a broad area where Iranian languages are spoken. These include Persian (the language now called Farsi in modern Iran and Afghanistan), Kurdish, and Pashto, which is a major language of Afghanistan and western Pakistan. Persian was the lingua franca of Central Asia, and was also used as a court and literary language, rather like French was in Europe. In addition, classical Arabic was, and is, the language of the Koran throughout the Muslim world.
While Turkestan had great ethnic and linguistic diversity, most of the inhabitants were bound together by Islam, though that

did not prevent some of the wilder tribes from making slaves of brother Muslims. There were also communities of Jews, Christians, and Hindus. Muslims were usually respectful of Jews and Christians, whom they called “people of the book” because of the scriptural writings that are sacred to all three religions.
During the nineteenth century the expanding empires of Britain and Russia confronted each other across the broad wastelands of Central Asia, constantly skirmishing and scheming for advantage in a conflict that came to be called the Great Game. The British spread northwest from India while the Russians moved south, eventually annexing the independent Central Asian khanates of Khiva, Bokhara, and Kokand into what came to be called Soviet Central Asia.
The Great Game produced many true stories of high adventure, and Silk and Secrets was inspired by a real rescue mission that took place in 1844, after the Amir of Bokhara had imprisoned two British army officers, Colonel Charles Stoddart and Lieutenant Arthur Conolly. The British government believed that both men had been executed, but reports were confused and contradictory and a group of army officers decided that something more should be done for their fellows.
An eccentric Anglican clergyman, Dr. Joseph Wolff, volunteered to go to Turkestan to ask for the release of Stoddart and Conolly. As a former missionary to the Middle East and Central Asia, Wolff was uniquely qualified for the journey, so the concerned officers raised money to pay his expenses. Wolff successfully reached Bokhara, only to learn that the two officers had already been executed.

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Silk and secrets mary jo putney