Monday, November 30, 2015

A Dirty War

Yesterday during a rare, quiet extended reading period I finished reading Anna Politkovskaya's A Dirty War. Anna Politkovskaya (1958-2006) was a Russian reporter who wrote for Novaya Gazeta, became famous for covering the 2nd Chechen War and notorious (in some circles) for exposing Putin's regime. Tragically she was gunned down outside her Moscow apartment in 2006. I'm a bit surprised it took me so long to get to her books.

A Dirty War is a collection of dispatches (articles) Politkovskaya wrote from July 1999 to January 2001. The articles concern all manner of topics related to Chechnya during this time period, but focus on the plight of the Chechen people, especially the refugee crisis, the unending corruption, the senseless violence and the despair. I particularly enjoyed reading her interviews with Russian military personnel and a pair of Chechen fighters. Her style of writing, however, took some getting used to. This book is not a good example of objective journalism. I'm not someone who kids themselves and believes that any journalism is opinion free, but some presentations sound much more slanted than others. Politkovskaya definitely has a point to make with every dispatch. Her interview questions are not the "softballs" American audiences are used to. But despite those complaints I consider the book essential reading for understanding the 2nd Chechen War. Politkovskaya was killed for writing books such as this. I can't help but thinking they deserve to be read.

Anna Politkovskaya

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