Across Cultures and Empires

An Immigrant's Odyssey from the Soviet Army to the US War in Iraq and American Citizenship

Mahir Ibrahimov

In Across Cultures and Empires author Mahir Ibrahimov invites the reader to share his incredible journey through the world-shaking geopolitical transformations of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This fast-paced narrative based upon the author’s experience serving in the Soviet army as an Azeri minority; working for the Soviet Communist Party and experiencing disillusionment with communism; watching the fall of the Soviet Union; living through the abortive coup against Gorbachev; working in the newly independent Azeri government during its unfolding conflict with Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh, a conflict Moscow purposely exacerbated as it sought to regain a measure of control over its former republics; immigrating to the United States in search of freedom; working with the US Army in Iraq as an interpreter; and becoming a citizen of the United States and continuing his work for the US Army as a language and culture expert.

Across Cultures and Empires is above all an immigrant’s story. Mahir Ibrahimov’s fluency in multiple languages offers the perspective of someone who found a way to successfully cross boundaries amid the fall of empire and the resulting cascade of conflicts, even as he provides the reader with insight into an era where mass migration has become a defining dynamic. In the course of telling his personal story and reflecting upon his experiences, Ibrahimov offers clear observations on the deep connections he has made about freedom and America’s role in the world, the different cultures he experienced, war, peace, the fight against terrorism, and the role of religion. Ibrahimov’s background in both the Soviet and US militaries allows him to expertly contrast the Soviet and American experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, he offers provocative thoughts on the future course of terrorism and Americas wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Across Cultures and Empires, told from the perspective of a Soviet minority, fills important gaps in our knowledge of the post-Soviet reality.

Across Cultures and Empires is no ordinary autobiography: Mahir Ibrahimovbrings a scholar’s eye to pivotal periods. He describes life in the Red Army and the twilight of the Soviet Union, the abortive coup against Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and then service to newly independent Azerbaijan, both at home and in opening its embassy in the United States. Adopting America as his new country, Ibrahimov came full circle, serving the US Army at home and abroad. Ibrahimov has seen and done enough for five lifetimes, a real-life Forrest Gump. Anyone who picks up Across Cultures and Empires will be hooked.”

—Michael Rubin, resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute, and coeditor of Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?

“The story of Dr. Mahir Ibrahimov is both a historic and fascinating tale, one that is very much worth reading. It offers a unique perspective on the times and how the Cold War, post–Cold War period, and the War on Terror shaped the culture, knowledge, and aspirations of one man who desired to serve and improve the circumstances around him.”

—Colonel Roderick M. Cox, US Army (Ret.), president and chief executive officer, Command and General Staff College Foundation, Inc.

See all reviews...

About the Author

Mahir Ibrahimov is director of the Cultural and Area Studies Office, US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and the author of Great Power Competition: The Changing Landscape of Global Geopolitics. .