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Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power

by Heidi Bradner, Anatol Lieven

Buy the book: Heidi Bradner. Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power

Release Date: May, 1999

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Heidi Bradner. Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power

good, but not really for beginners.

Lieven's book is sporadically brilliant at telling the story of why the Russians failed to conquer Chechnya, and why they'll probably fail again. In particular, he brings to the fore how russian foreign policy is dictated by the internal political struggles amongst the rich and greedy; and how the russian military suffers from a serious lack of morale.

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.


Good, But Difficult and Incomplete

All the reviews of this book are right on target: it includes excellent material (the best on the subject), great photographs, is very well written...but lacks maps, is badly organized and certainly not for beginners (i.e. anyone without a basic knowledge of Russian History, Military History and Political Theory). The book's weaknesses can be patched up by consulting John Pillani's recent article in *Slavic Military Studies*, June 2000: "Corpses Burning in the Streets": Russia's Doctrinal Flaws in the 1995 Fight for Grozny", which includes good maps as well as more "sympathy for the devil" than pro-Chechen Lieven is willing to grant. Also look up Lieven in the NYT index for updates on the Chechnya situation.

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