on 1 November 1998
Lieven gives a vivid account from the front line in Chechnya during the recent war. He spoke to the main protagonists on both sides and also to the common soldiers or fighters. He offers many lively examples of Russian incompetence and corruption and writes admiringly but not uncritically about the courage and tenacity of the Chechens who fought this once mighty military force. Lieven also analyses thoroughly the broader military and political reasons for the Russian defeat and traces its causes to the general state of political decay in present day Russia. He offers the historical background of the very troubled Russian-Chechen relationship. He draws many interesting parallels with other political systems where corrupt and incompetent leaders have remained in power over longer periods of time e.g. in certain Latin American countries. Lieven writes critically about western analysts such as the historian Richard Pipes who still tend to regard Russia as an inherently expansionist power. Military expansion, in his view, is simply not on the agenda for a very long time, if only due to the very sorry state of the Russian military and of politics generally. A very insightful book, very rewarding.
on 30 September 2009
This thorough and comprehensive account of Russo-Caucasian relations and War in the 90's, the examination of key figures, as they were then 10 years ago, and a dissection of the shortcomings of the Russian Military with a Structural analysis of its failings, ensure this book 10 years on post Putin is still of interest.
Lieven has an established academic record, and with his inside connections presents an authentic , authoritative and impartial voice. He gives an interesting account of the chechen people, who 10 years ago were little known in the West.
As it transpires the War is in a second phase and ongoing. This however is an exceptionally detailed account and analyis of the mechanism and execution of the first War in its historical and contemporary contexts.
on 27 December 2010
A very shallow review of the past 200-year long struggle between the Chechens and the Russians. The author, Anatol (Peter) Lieven, originally an office writer/journalist, tries to venture into the fields of investigative journalism, anthropology, ethnography, history, and military history. I believe this is a lackluster book with an explosive title, but it fails to live up to the hype. It is evident throughout the entire book, that the the author, Anatol Lieven, suffers a 'superiority complex'; as one progresses through the book, it turns more into a tirade of why HE is significant because HE was there and HE saw it all. Some of his 'discoveries' are questionable, others are simply laughable. His 'presence' in Chechnya amounts to a couple of weeks 'in the field' before and after heavy fighting. This book is his own verbal gibberish, converted into text, mixed with ideas adopted from other writers (Moshe Gammer), and sold as a 'new' text.
I regret ever having picked up this book, and if you want a more serious, proven, approach to the problems of Russia and Chechnya, please consult Robert Seely - A Deadly Embrace (for contemporary wars in Chechnya) and Moshe Gammer - Muslim Resistance to the Tsar (for the historical aspect of the conflicts).