"Informative and often entertainingly wry . . .
Today it is impossible to read Simon Pare’s English translation without thinking of the horror that has since enveloped much of the region to the Black Sea’s north and west. . . . This account, not inappropriately, is often presented in fragments, as his interlocutors share what they know and Mr. Mühling fills in the gaps with enough historical detail to ensure that his readers are not lost. And the background to some of the tales he relates—vanished kingdoms and khanates, and a scrap of Rome that outlasted even Byzantium—ought to stir any imagination."
— Wall Street Journal
"[Mühling] explores nations ancient and nascent, meets everyone from marine scientists to cigarette smugglers, and digs into a history of neighborly conflict. It's a brisk and brilliant tour, a reminder that ethnically mixed communities shaped these shores for hundreds of years, until they were torn apart by imperialists and nationalists."
"Against a backdrop of demographic, political, and environmental change, the civilizations of the Black Sea are examined by looking at every situation from more than one angle. Pare’s vibrant translation from the original German brings out the literary qualities of the prose. Troubled Water
is an exuberant travelogue that reveals the complex civilizations that surround the Black Sea."
— Foreword Reviews (starred review)
“It is impossible not to admire the way Mühling skims effortlessly around what must be one of the most fractious coastal circumferences in the world, dipping onshore at key locations to tease out its most telling stories. He has a happy knack of bumping into characters who help unpick the layers of Black Sea history, undertaking (on the reader’s behalf) prodigious drinking sessions in the company of Circassians and Cossacks, Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Abkhazis. The net result is a 360-degree picture assembled from a jigsaw puzzle of humanity.”
— Andrew Eames, author of Blue River, Black Sea
“From Ovid to small-town oligarchs, from the Scythians to modern-day cigarette smugglers, Troubled Waters
takes the reader on a fascinating journey along the patchworked coasts of the Black Sea, a tour de force through geography and ethnography, culture and conflict, charting a course strewn with intriguing points of connection where the traveller-author meets the people who live on these history-laden shores. With learnedness and wry humour, Mühling explores the harbours and coves of this famed, yet obscure body of water, masterfully rendering the vibrant colours and proportions of an ocean of epic events and of small, yet tall tales.”
— Erika Fatland, author of The Border: A Journey Around Russia
“In this brilliant and humane journey, Mühling explores the nations, societies and minorities jostling passionately around the Black Sea. He enters into the turbulent lives of those he meets, and there is an unforgettable anecdote—sometimes tragic and horrifying, sometimes merry and touching, on almost every page.”
— Neal Ascherson, author of Black Sea