The collapse of the Soviet Union has made ancient areas once again visible, both because information about them is newly accessible and because their many conflicts put them in the news. The Caucasus fits this description usually well, for only a handful of specialists know anything about this very turbulent region.

The Nortn Caucasus Barrier contains outstanding studies by Chantal Lemercier-Quelquejay on Russia's cooption of Caucasian elites; by Moshe Gammer on its strategies of conquest; by Paul B. Henze on the Circassian resistance; and by the editor and Abdurahman Avtorkhanov (a historic Chechen figure) on the Soviet period. It also contains a final chapter on developments after the 1991 putsch attempt.

Broxup and her five colleagues provide an important service in bringing to general attention (and especially to Russian and Middle Eastern specialists) the scope of the North Caucausus's two-century war with Russia, the longest going between any Muslim and Christian peoples. The conflict's significance for Russia lies in the immense impact-psychological, literary, political-of the Caucasian wars. For the Middle East, that the martial peoples of that mountainous region "stood guard and protected the Muslim world" make it possible for Turkey and Iran to retain their independence.