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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Account of a Torturous War, 14 Nov. 2007
By 
D. Winchester "atomic83" (Bushey, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Soldier's War in Chechnya (Hardcover)
The war in Chechnya, now in its second phase, is a special circumstance. Unlike Iraq, Kosovo or virtually any other modern conflict, the battle for Chechen independence goes unreported, ignored or winked at by governments the world over. Is it a fight against terrorism, or a small nation fighting for its independence? Few can say for sure, mostly due to the stranglehold the Russian government holds on the region. This is what makes this book so important.

Arkady Babchenko fought in both Chechnya wars before being demobilized in 2000; he later became a journalist with the non-conformist Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta (where he worked next to the since-murdered Anna Politkovskaya). This book collects his recorded memories of this most brutal of guerrilla wars, from New Years celebrations with rifles and condensed milk to the death of fellow soldier Yokovlev, who was `slit open like a tin of meat' by Chechen rebels and strangled with his own intestines. The tales are often brief, only sometimes extending to novella length, which works well as it encourages short reading bursts. It is a swift read and utterly gripping.

Russian history is full of horror stories, from the burning of Moscow to Stalingrad to the Gulag. Chechnya is the next, and Babchenko tells a tale as compellingly merciless as anything Solzhenitsyn, Shalamov or Beevor have offered. This is a unique book, delving into areas journalists can't and governments won't - you must read it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and emotional account of the horrors of war!, 13 Dec. 2007
By 
J. Russ "James Russ" (U.K) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Soldier's War in Chechnya (Hardcover)
After traveling in and out of Russia for many years, I have seen the absolute beauty of the landscape and the Cities and ever since I have been fascinated by Russian culture. However, when traveling you never realise the horrific under world that grips the country for instance, the murder of political opposition and the brutality that seems inherent in the Russian military system.

After reading all of the books published by Anna Politkovskaya,(another brilliant writer) you are introduced to the abhorrent and hidden world of Chechnya which appears to be hopeless. This book offers a different perspective on that horrific conflict and is so astoundingly graphic and personal that I could not put this book down and ended up reading the whole work in one go!

Even if you are not interested in Russia or Chechnya or even military literature, this is essential reading for everyone! It is so full of emotion and imagery that you are taken into a different world and you read in utter disbelief that it is actually non-fiction! I am 23 years old and kept picturing what I was doing at 18 or 19 (the author's age in the book) and realised that these Russian soldiers were subjected to the most unforgivable brutality which destroyed their youth and lives. It is impossible to believe that anything that makes a person human could survive such a place.

However, apart from the horrors, there is also amazing comradeship between the soldiers and all of the best parts of being human did survive in their relationship with each other on the front line.

This is by far the best book I have read this year! Let's hope Babchenko produces many more amazing works which also give us hope in humanity!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Geneva Convention Here, 13 Sept. 2008
By 
John O' Keeffe (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Soldier's War in Chechnya (Hardcover)
Gripping account of conscript Arkady Babchenko's struggle to survive as a conscript in the First Chechen War of 1995 and then as a battle-hardened volunteer in the second Chechen War in 1999.

The brutality of this little reported conflict permeates throughout the book where the soldiers fear of being killed was only superseeded by the fear of being captured by Chechen rebels. Not for the faint hearted either with detailed accounts of atrocities committed by both sides including the savage Russian reaction when they found several of their soldiers crucified.

Book is not really for anyone who wants detailed analysis of the Chechen campaigns. Reader is rarely above the sub-unit level where even the soldiers never seem to know what's going on around them. It's hard not to empathise with their predicament and the appalling treatment metted out to them even by their own superiors.

Overall, well worth a read of what essentially is a first hand, no holds barred account of a truly disturbing and brutal conflict
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Brilliant!, 26 Jan. 2008
By 
R. J. Pickett (Norfolk, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One Soldier's War in Chechnya (Hardcover)
I have to say that this is an absolutely amazing account of the `Dirty War' in Chechnya. Reading this stirred up so many different emotions for me. It's a very graphic book, and it doesn't pull its punches at all.

Every page, every paragraph makes you think. Not only does Babchenko describe horrors that are beyond belief, but he also manages to encapsulate the fear and disbelief of an idealistic 18 year old who signed up to protect the Motherland.

It's amazing how ill-prepared these young conscripts were. They were given hardly any training, and the more experienced soldiers had no time for them at all, simply believing that these young, inexperienced lads would die soon anyway. Even before any of them were shipped off to Chechnya they had to endure the violent bullying that goes on in the barracks.

I have read various journalists' accounts of the war in Chechnya, but this is the first time I have ever read a soldier's account. You feel his loss, his despair, his anger, and it did make me wonder if you can ever return from a conflict like this and lead a normal life. They were sent to their deaths by a Russian Government that couldn't care less about the cost to Human life. Unfortunately, I don't see this changing.

All in all, a very shocking and candid look at war and its effects on those unfortunate enough to get caught up in it; whether that be a soldier, or an innocent civilian, it takes and ruins lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A war little has been known about, but this ..., 18 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: One Soldier's War in Chechnya (Hardcover)
A war little has been known about, but this book lets people see into the state of the russian army in the early nineties. Lots of vivid stories that on the whole are original and at times shocking. The brutality of the war and of the russians with each other. Troops beat each other to a pulp, officers blind drunk every night, selling spares to their enemy. A real page turner.
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One Soldier's War in Chechnya
One Soldier's War in Chechnya by Arkady Babchenko (Hardcover - 8 Nov. 2007)
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