By Sebastian Smith
Publish 12 months note: First released in 1998
Ancient guests referred to as the Caucasus the mountain of languages. Greeks, Persians, Romans, Goths, Arabs, Mongols and Turks have all undergone the zone; poets and artists were encouraged via its rugged attractiveness and but its historical past is a sad one - for hundreds of years it's been ravaged by way of almost non-stop warfare. each 50 years, it sort of feels, Russia makes an attempt to take keep an eye on of this highly strategic a part of the realm - sandwiched because it is among Iran, Turkey and Russia and crossed through one of the most worthwhile oil pipelines on the earth.
The newest clash to brush around the quarter started while Vladimir Putin invaded Chechnya in 1999. millions of Russian infantrymen and hundreds of thousands extra Chechens - either rebels and civilians - died and Chechnya's cities and towns have been bombed past acceptance. Sebastian Smith travelled to Chechnya in this interval.
A mix of travelogue, historical past and conflict journalism, Allah's Mountains tells the tale of the clash among this kingdom of mountain tribes and the may of the Russian military. A relocating instance of the way background might be written. Smith's account of the old historical past to the clash reads like a unique, yet larger, since it additionally has the intimacy and immediacy of an eyewitness account. He has given us a memorable, well-researched account of a exceptionally terrible conflict. - Literary assessment this can be a riveting booklet, written with virtually seemless splendor. - overseas Affairs
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Additional resources for Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya
The young man slew one and captured the other. Quite apart from nabegs, the North Caucasus has always had a deeprooted martial culture. Until the Bolshevik revolution, every man kept a firearm at home and boys were brought up knowing and loving weapons. No North Caucasian went anywhere unarmed. The kinzhal was known as the ‘court of last appeal’ and poems were written in its honour. Today the old passions survive, even if in diluted form. High up in the mountains of Dagestan, in Gunib, an old man asked me to lunch at his home down an alley from the tiny Imam Shamil Street.
In his poem ‘The Dispute’, Lermontov prophesied that Russian conquest and loss of freedom for the highlanders was inevitable. ‘Terrible, like gathering storm clouds, east, due east, they pour’, he wrote of the Russian armies. Tolstoy believed in the colonial mission, even volunteering to take part in military operations in 1851. ’ The muddled relationship with the highlanders is reflected in Russia’s policies in the region and the apparently contradictory results. The peak of these contradictions is the system of autonomous republics built into the Soviet Union.
Russians’ basic needs are remarkably similar. Polls consistently show that Russians have little interest in fighting Chechens for the sake of it. The patriotic blush is off this nasty war. What they do want is security: an end to the terrorist bombs and hostage-takings. The land of Chechnya itself has little meaning to most living outside. Yet Russians yearn for the sense of living in a strong, stable state. This second war seemed to promise that, but the promise was empty, and Russia – if you peer under the veneer created by Putin’s authoritarianism – is in many ways as weak as under Yeltsin.
Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya by Sebastian Smith