From Kirkus Reviews
"Schaefer’s debut is an in-depth critical assessment of the Russo-Chechen conflict that reflects a deep understanding of counterinsurgency in general and how it relates to that region specifically. Although the Russian government officially declared an end to the Second Chechen War in 2009, the insurgency in the North Caucasus is far from over, according to Schaefer. In clear, layman-friendly prose, he argues convincingly and meticulously that Russia’s strategy failures stem from a vital misunderstanding of the nature of Chechen resistance; the Russian government’s insistence that Chechen rebels are less resistance fighters than they are mere terrorist criminals is a misinterpretation that, in Schaefer’s view, has led to the misapplication of counterterrorist tactics that not only failed to quell the Chechen resistance movement while the war was on, but have allowed it to regroup in the last two years. Schaefer, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Special Forces, wields his military and foreign policy expertise handily, building his arguments from the rudiments up so that casual readers can easily follow while also scoring insights that ought to make this work indispensable to more interested actors and observers. He provides invaluable context by explaining the nature of insurgencies and terrorist acts, details the long history of regional power struggles (and particularly the protracted hostilities between Russians and various North Caucasian ethnic groups) and analyzes the extent to which certain Islamic sects have shaped the conflict and motivated insurgents’ causes. At root, Schaefer’s argument is that the Russian approach, in deviation from Western standards, puts too little emphasis on political strategies to combat the insurgency, instead relying on vastly superior firepower in an attempt to break the Chechens, who have been waging a campaign without an end-game strategy and are destined to fail as long as Russia’s interest in the region remains strong. Whether or not Schaefer’s conclusions are persuasive, his reasoning is honest, well-researched and refreshingly free of partisan rhetoric. A tour de force in breadth and depth."
Named to Kirkus Reviews "Best of 2011"
Winner of the USA Book News 2011 Best Book Award for Current Events
Winner of the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Award for Foreign Affairs (Bronze)
Winner of the 2012 Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal for History
Named to the "Top 150 Books on Terrorism and Counterterrorism" by the Terrorism Research Initiative
“A remarkable book ... Col Schaefer’s book does a fine job in summarizing the breadth and depth of the conflict, and making the latest military thinking about insurgencies accessible, while steering clear of polemic or bias. This book tells you a lot about the Caucasus. And also about the brainpower assets of the American military." -- The Economist.
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"enormously helpful in understanding the ongoing conflict in the North Caucasus, and the gnawing feeling of dread as Russia prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympics … free of cynicism and romance … It makes one wish military analysts had taken on the Afghan puzzle with similar energy, say, a decade or so back." -- The New York Times
"a first-rate study that is part history, part counterinsurgency theory, and part predictive analysis…The North Caucasus is a complex and bewildering ethnic and cultural mix that is hard for a foreigner to understand. Robert Schaefer has done much to overcome this through his thorough research and balanced approach. His history of the region and the post-Soviet phase is especially well done…strongly recommend -- Journal of Military History
"Scrupulously researched" -- The National Interest
“Incisive, insightful – in short, invaluable.” -- Liz Fuller, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Caucasus Report
Thoughtful and comprehensive analysis … useful to the policymaker … helps answer the paradox that most of those who have studied the region grappled with: Why have the Russians never succeeded in extinguishing this 300-year old insurgency while, at the same time, the Chechens have never been able to win their independence? -- Parameters
"comprehensive and informative … Schaefer’s informed analysis of the Chechen insurgency makes this a book that every student of counterinsurgency or the Caucasus region should own." -- Military Writers Society of America
"Demystifies our longest running graduate-level conflict."
-- Col. "Nick" Pratt, USMC (ret.), Director of the Program on Terrorism and Security Studies, G.C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies
"A 'must read' for those who are looking for answers about how to stop the brutality and violence in Southern Russia." -- The New Book Review