Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Small Corner of Hell

At lunch today I finished reading my second book by Anna Politkovskaya, A Small Corner of Hell:Dispatches from Chechnya. Like the first book of hers that I read, Dirty War, this book is composed of material originally written for the Russian newspaper for whom she worked at the time. Unlike Dirty War, however, this book was less disjointed. The book roughly details the chaos of early Second Chechen War (especially the frequent purges), how this chaos has spread, how corrupt the war has become, why many participants in the war want it to continue and finally whose really fighting the war and whose leading those men. At this point in my Chechen studies I don't need to be convinced how corrupt the war became or how brutal the situation was/is so I found those parts dragged. I did, however, enjoy reading about the relationships between Maskhadov and the Chechen field commanders. Her interviews with the then president of Ingushetia and Maskhadov's ambassador were also enlightening. Until I read this book I didn't have a good sense of what was being fought for in the 2001-2003 period and did't understand how Maskahdov and his associates saw the future. To me Politkovskaya's first two books are essential reading for an understanding of the early insurgency period of the Second Chechen War, I just can't decide which I'd recommend more.

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