Ahmet Zeki Velidi Togan (1890-1970) provides the details of his pursuits and environment in his own words. As he points out, in his own preface, he was not content to solely depend on his memory or even notes, making use of secondary sources and collective recollections of his colleagues, especially to verify the political events. However, in rendering his words into English, the following provisions were borne in mind:
1. Language: Togan was fluent in a number of diverse languages (German, Arabic, Persian, etc.) and myriad of Central Asian Turk dialects (there are no such distinctions as "Turkic" and "Turkish," which were artificially introduced into English and Russian). He not only used these languages and dialects for scholarly purposes, but also for discourse under a wide variety of conditions. Consequently, one can easily discern from his expresions that, while recalling an event, Togan has the tendency of remembering the proceedings in the "original," the particular language or dialect in which the transaction took place. For example, if his respondent was a Kazakh, he thinks in Kazakh dialect, the flavor of which invariably seeps into his writing, recording the incident.
2. Style: Togan came into contact with innumerable personages, speaking in all manner of languages, in as many locations. Thus, Togan's expressions have a tendency to flow from one language and dialect to the next. This is true even in a single sentence, which are often longish, if he is relaying a group discussion or meeting comprising mixed sources. Invariably, this fact also influences his grammar. Although utmost care has been taken to preserve Togan's own style, grammar and puctuation, it became necesary, at certain points, to insert clarifications in square brackets.
3. Orthography: Names of many localities Togan references cannot be easily found in other sources. Hence Togan's work is an invaluable primary catalog. Threfore, it became necessary to preserve his ortography. A few exceptions were made, especially in rendering well known place names, such as Bukhara, Samarkand, Egypt.
Togan was a product of unusual circumstances. He has been quite active over a prolonged period, and his own account in this volume covers a rather small portion of his activities: those up to World War Two, even then, not recording everything between 1923 and 1939. He himself, as he noted, wished to put down the rest as a second volume, but wondered if he would have the time or the chance. It would have been as fascinating as the first. Therefore, one would naturally wish to see a complete biography of Togan, to better understand his times, struggle and the politics of his world.
I have originally envisioned fully annotating this volume. However, such an undertaking would have considerably added to the length of the manuscript.