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Chechnya
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About the Author

Anatol Lieven currently reports from Central Europe for the Financial Times. In 1996-97 he was visiting senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence, published by Yale University Press.

Anatol Lieven is Editor of Strategic Comments and an expert on post-Soviet affairs at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London. He is also the author of The Baltic Revolution.

Reviews

Journalist Lieven (The Baltic Revolution) offers something of a three-course menu in his latest book. The first is a commanding eyewitness account of the recent Chechen war and the personalities and power maneuvers surrounding it, followed by his analysis of the breakdown of the Russian military and, indeed, of the entire Russian political structure after the Soviet Union's collapse. Third is a condensed history of the Chechen (and North Caucasus) region‘its people, culture and attitudes, concluding with the author's prognoses. As his subtitle might suggest, Lieven's emphasis is on issues of Russian power‘Chechnya's strategic and symbolic significance, the breakdown of legitimacy, mismanagement and pervasive corruption within the Russian state, from Yeltsin down, which destroyed public and military morale. Russian troops who survived by theft while fighting a guerrilla war they had no training for ended up asking why they were fighting outside Russia, risking death without pay, only to inflate remote political egos and fortunes. Lieven shows enormous respect for the Chechens, whose memory of Stalin's mass deportations between 1944 and 1958 galvanized their resolve to be free. Although helpful to understanding Russia and Chechnya today and rich in firsthand information, the work's three main themes remain unsatisfactorily integrated, while Lieven's indictment of post-Soviet Russia begs for a larger work, with Chechnya as one telling chapter. (May)

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