Author and Commonwealth Association of Museums Vice President Nicolas Iljine has launched his latest book, which is a highly visual narration of the history of Azerbaijan's capital city as a cultural and cosmopolitan hub and the birthplace of the global oil industry on the resource-rich Caspian Sea, Azertag state news agency reported.
"Memories of Baku: Beyond the Land of Fire" was presented at an event hosted by Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK Fakhraddin Gurbanov, the Britain Azerbaijan Business Council, Asia House and the book's sponsor Ulvi Kasimov at the Baku restaurant in London.
Using a rare collection of artwork and essays, the book shows how Azerbaijan became one of the largest oil producing nations in the world and how the country's rise to power over the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had a profound effect on the culture, economics and politics of the country, in particular, its effect on the capital city of Baku.
The book tracks how the oil industry boom played the role of a major catalyst for change, resulting in a surge in Azerbaijan's population and enrichment of its ethnic diversity; the cultural effects have become a defining feature of Baku.
Speaking at the event, Ambassador Gurbanov, who contributed to the book's coming to fruition, explained that "Memories of Baku" represents a true and vivid illustration of Azerbaijan and its evolution over a critical time in the country's history.
"In today's global village, understanding the history and culture of our modern day economic and political partners is as critical as it has ever been. This book beautifully illustrates our country's past and how Azerbaijan arrived at the present; it is a book to learn from, and to cherish," the ambassador said.
Iljine, the editor, in turn said, "This book started with a collection of postcards from Baku and turned into a passion for discovering local impressions from further afield in Azerbaijan. As I travelled back to the country many, many times it continued to fascinate me with its warmth and cultural diversity that imbued a unique mix of Europe and Asia. This book focuses on the formative elements of today's cultural scene, a period that leads us up until the 1920s, which we believe were so critical to the making of the modern, progressive Baku that we have today."
Other speakers at the event included Asia House CEO Michel Lawrence, Director of the Britain Azerbaijan Business Council Lyndsay Howard, as well as CEO and founder of the investment company SFERIQ Ulvi Gasimov.