Saturday, December 5, 2015

Conflict in the Caucasus

When I initially found Conflict in the Caucasus: Abkhazia, Georgia and the Russian Shadow by Svetlana Chervonnaya I was very excited; finally I found a book that covered the Georgian-Abkhazian Conflict in depth! I ordered the book and moved it to the top of my reading stack. I was bit sad when I got it to find out that the book only covers the run-up to the war and then pads the rest of the book with a chronology of the entire war and some memorandums. Boo! Starting the book was a bit like starting a series on Netflix that I knew had been cancelled. I knew just as the book started to get good it would be over.

Chervonnaya's coverage of the pre-conflict is an odd read, at times the book is academically analytical and at other times the author is extremely opinionated. I found it worthwhile to read because there is dearth of books out there covering this topic (Wikipedia doesn't cut it). The book introduced me to some interesting characters, especially Vladislav Ardzinba the leader of Abkhazian separatist movement, and helped me understand the motivations of the participants (at least from a pro-Georgian view point). Even at ~140 pages, however, the book could use some editing. About twenty pages are devoted to discussing all of the propaganda put into Russian and Georgian newspapers concerning the run-up - I definitely skimmed this part of the book. Additionally the book assumes the reader has a lot of prior knowledge about Soviet/Russian politics. Sadly, just when the I really started to enjoy the book it was over. For now I'll keep looking for the definitive work on this conflict.

Vladislav Ardzinba (1945-2010)

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