Since the Crimean War of 1853–6 there has been little information for the English-speaking reader on Crimea’s history and peoples. Only the American scholar Alan Fisher has used the necessary Ottoman archives and other Turkic sources, but his writings, published in Istanbul in 1998, are not readily available. Putin’s annexation of Crimea, however, has induced Hurst to produce two brief monographs.
Neil Kent’s Crimea should be subtitled travesty, not history. Careless with facts and even spellings, poorly researched and biased, it was obviously not peer-reviewed before publication. Like Kent’s A Concise History of Sweden of 2008, this book omits crucial events, expands trivialities and abounds in errors. The Crimean War is allotted some thirty pages; the 350-year history of the Crimean Khanate, among Europe’s most influential and well-documented states, is allowed just twenty.
Kent begins with a whirl through Crimean antiquity. The ‘aborigine’ Taurideans (Taurians in Kent’s book), he tells us fancifully, have an ethnonym cognate with English ‘tower’. (What little we know of the Taurideans’ tribal names and skull shapes suggests they were Pontic, like the Circassians.) By 500 BC, Iranian nomads