Was the Civilizing Mission truly meant to civilize the people of Central Asia?

Essay by hot_dranUniversity, Bachelor'sA, September 2003

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It truly was the great game. It was the struggle that took place between the two superpowers - Victorian Britain and Tsarist Russia over the lonely passes and the blazing desert of Central Asia. I would say that the great game was much like an enormous game of chess; with Russia seeking to expand its borders and Great Britain seeking to safeguard its interests in India. While it was never made clear in Hopkirk's book that the true Russian dream was the conquest of India and not of Central Asia, but I think that it was indirectly implied. When Younghusband met colonel Yanov he recounted "and he showed me, marked in green, a large area extending right down to our Indian watershed" (Hopkirk 465). This was the area that the Russians claimed to be their own or the area that they were going to conquer. Also, in many other encounters when a British officer and a Russian general met, the Russian general always mentioned how anxious his men were to face their ultimate battle with the British on reaching India.

I think that Hopkirk in his book "The Great Game" has been very successful in giving a detailed description of this incredible tale of high adventure and political intrigue, conveyed here through the exploits of Cossacks, Muslim guerrillas, courageous travelers, spies, mapmakers and soldiers. The thing that is noteworthy about this book is the wealth of information that Hopkirk provides and still manages to make it interesting to the reader. He tells a complete story, but expands on issues and events that are both interesting and important.

In my paper I will talk about the Russian and British conquest of this area for financial gain or, as the imperialists liked to call it, the "Civilizing Mission". I will try and...