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Spetsnaz - The Inside Story of The Soviet Special Forces Hardcover – January 1, 1988


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Hardcover, January 1, 1988
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Norton (1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393026140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393026146
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,153,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Another win for Viktor Suvorov. If you've read Inside the Soviet Army and Inside Soviet Military Intelligence-- and if you're reading this review then odds are you have or should read those two books as well-- then you know what to expect from Suvorov. It's going to be detailed, concise, complete, and almost pedantic in its attention to detail.

There's a tendency among westerners -- especially armchair generals with no military experience like me -- to blindly accept our own assumptions founded in western military doctrine and political assumptions. This is a dire mistake. Spetsnaz is an elite force but NOT one founded on the US model, or one that in any way resembles it. Its mission, methods, recruitment, training, tactics, and policies are totally different from that of the American system. Suvorov gives us a good history of both Spetsnaz and the organizational and doctrinal assumptions that shape it.

If you're looking for equipment or adventure stories, you'll find that this book is lacking. It's written by a former Spetsnaz officer who became an intelligence officer, and thinks and acts like one. You'll get much more on why and how spetsnaz is deployed, rather than gee-whiz accounts of all the capitalists they've impaled on shovels. You'll also read about the Spetsnaz agent network-- something with no known parallel in the West and IMO worth its own book.

With Russia on the march, and stories of Spetsnaz action in Georgia and now Ukraine, this book is more relevant than ever. While Spetsnaz was significantly re-organized in the mid 2000's, it has reportedly reverted to its original, Soviet-era structure and operations. That makes this book timely and important. My only complaint is that it's hard to take western media seriously when you start catching their numerous, obvious mistakes. So thanks for opening my eyes and ruining my sleep, Vladimir Bogdanovich. Highly recommended.
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This book was written about the time of the Soviet involvement (entanglement) in Afghanistan. It would be easy to dismiss it as out of date, but I don't think that is the case. I've always suspected there were differences between Western and Russian military doctrine. I had grossly underestimated this difference, particularly in their selection process into their Special Forces. Conscripts have no say. Their training is brutal and dehumanizing to the point some are driven to suicide or desertion. Where our armed forces practice "Leave no man behind," they would rather execute a wounded comrade to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. Much of this philosophy will seem Machiavellian and underhanded, but then again in war, winning is what counts in the end.
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