Most helpful critical review
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
good, but not really for beginners.
on October 12, 1999
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.