Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power Paperback – 1 Jul 1999
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From the Back Cover
The humiliation of Russia by separatist rebels in the Chechen War marked a key moment in Russian - and perhaps world - history. In this new analysis Anatol Lieven offers a riveting account of the war as a means to explore the painful fate of the post-Soviet state.
About the Author
Following his career as a Moscow-based correspondent for "The Times" of London, Anatol Lieven was a fellow at the United States Institute of Peace in 1996. He was also a correspondent in Central Europe for the "Financial Times", and is now editor of "Strategic Comments" and expert on post-Soviet affairs at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. Lieven is the author of "Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power" and the prize-winning "The Baltic Revolution".
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
But the book has serious problems: Lieven assumes his readers are as knowledgeable as him. For instance, Lieven talks of all these important figures in the Chechnyan war, but often doesn't bother to introduce them. He doesn't explain who General Dudayev was until about 50 pages through the book. The legendary exploits of a great chechnyan rebel, Shamil, aren't discussed till near the very end of the book. Lieven doesn't discuss the history of Russian involvement in chechnya till two-thirds of the way through the book.
There's no damn map, so often you have no idea what took place where.
If you want a good short introduction to the chechnya conflict, this isn't it. You're better off starting off with something a little simpler, that actually tells the story in a relatively linear and straightforward manner.
The Rule of Law;
and Human Rights.
There is very little that this book does not at some point find a way to address. That is my only real problem with the text: Like its author, it has a way of involving many different ideas that may, or may not, actually hold together to make a compelling argument. However, unlike other authors' attempts to weave this kind of tapestry, this book succeeds more often that it confounds.
I think it is the first book I have read that accurately captured just what was going on in Chechnya in terms of what had happened in Moscow. This is more than a typical piece of modern war-correspondent work. This is an author who understands both sides of the conflict, and not only in terms of the tactical and strategic pictures. More than a blow-by-blow account of Russian brutality (which it contains as well), it moves beyond the normal, facile explanations of Russian behavior in the Caucasus.
Would the normal view of an expansionist Russian still account for the ways in which the first Chechen campaign was conducted? Only partly, and it would be wholly unsatisfying to stop there. To answer this question requires a deeper understanding of modern Russia than you would get from the traditional explanations coming from Conquest et. al.
What Lieven has done here is to capture more than the status on the ground. He has achieved the first real and complex portrait of the Russia of Boris Yeltsin, the Russian army in its post-Soviet incarnation, and one of the best examples of the kind of analysis that needs to be done on modern armies who must confront ancient societies.
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