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The Hidden War: A Russian Journalist's Account of the Soviet War in Afghanistan Paperback – May 10, 2001


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The Hidden War: A Russian Journalist's Account of the Soviet War in Afghanistan + Afghanistan: A Russian Soldier's Story + The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (May 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080213775X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802137753
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Borovik, foreign editor of the Soviet weekly Ogonyok , spent a month with Soviet troops in Afghanistan near the end of the 1979-1988 war. His subjective, impressionistic account is of interest mainly for its startling echoes of the American experience in Vietnam: The Soviet soldiers' awed respect for the elusive enemy, their disgust over the waste of lives, their resentment of the harassment accorded returning veterans by an antiwar populace. And like our GIs in Vietnam, these men found solace in rock music, odd garb and drugs. The pathology of the Vietnam war is mirrored also with stories of Soviet atrocities: rape, murder and a My Lai-like massacre of civilians. Borovik summarizes the prevalent theories as to why the Soviets intervened in '79. The most interesting: Moscow's fear that the U.S., expelled from Iran, would attempt to turn Afghanistan into an anti-Soviet outpost. Although in its raw candor the book stands as a manifestation of glasnost , the writing is uneven, often jarring: "Oh, how harsh is my fate!" cries one veteran. Photos. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A maverick young Russian journalist, Borovik covered the Soviet military involvement in Afghanistan from early 1980 through the final phase of withdrawal in February 1989. Currently foreign editor of Ogonyok , the USSR's leading weekly news magazine and a staunch supporter of glasnost, he offers in this work an introductory essay which speculates on the scenario for the Soviet Union's entry into Afghanistan in late December 1979, followed by two gripping accounts of Russian soldiers under fire--one in the spring of 1987 ("Meet Me at the Three Cranes") and one dur ing the withdrawal ("The Hidden War"). While this is a subjective account of what Borovik labels "a nine- year-long tragedy," The Hidden War catches the human drama in what was clearly the Soviet Union's Vietnam. The book will appeal to a general audience as a fresh reminder of the universally grim reality of war.
- James Rhodes, Luther Coll., Decorah, Ia.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It is very frustrating for the reader.
Mark A. Galindo
I suggest this book to anyone who wants to read a real good book on this subject.
"startrekfan"
This book has valuable facts and interviews.
Citizen John

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on November 1, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The "The Hidden War" is a remarkably powerful work about the physical and mental scars that war can leave. What it is not is a detailed history of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. That's not to say that one can't find lessons for our current situation, but they aren't the ones you might expect. There aren't any clues as to how to fight the Afghans in this book, and the Soviet Army bears essentially no resemblance to our current force structure. They were fighting a war of aggression, were ill led and were provided with almost negligent training.
However, "The Hidden War" provides tremendous insight into the Afghan mindset: why they fight (or don't), why their country lies and ruins, and why they have such conflicted feelings towards the West. More than anything this book teaches us what we shouldn't do: We shouldn't try to hold large areas of territory, we shouldn't alienate the average Afghan with our superiority, we shouldn't disrespect their culture, however alien it may be to us.
If you're looking for a parallel to this work, I personally found myself time and time again thinking of Michael Herr's "Dispatches". In the same way that he captured the nightmare maelstrom of drugs, violence and disillusionment that was the Vietnam War, so too does Borovik paint a picture of a hopelessly misguided Soviet effort. He leaves no doubt as to the futility of fighting a conflict with no strategy (let alone tactics), no goals, and no support at home.
...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John on September 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book a few years ago and read it at the time. Then after the events of 09.11.01, i had to pull it back out and give it another read. This work shows how a war in Afghanistan was fought in the 1980's. It shows the fears and fraility of soldiers at the fore frontof a war without front lines. It gives graphic accounts of the difficulties found in fighting the Afghanis. It is a book the leaders of the world who will be deciding on whether to put ground troops into Afghanistan should take heed of and take copious notes.
Mr. Borovik does the fighting men of the then Soviet Army a proud service by showing the war as it was, not as the Soviet propaganda portrayed it.
His insights are invaluable to todays fighting men and women who may be going into harms way in the near future.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By "startrekfan" on September 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a great book. I just bought it a couple of days ago and have been reading it constantly. It is trilling, and tells the story of the Soviet/Afghani soldiers during the Russo-Afghan war. I suggest this book to anyone who wants to read a real good book on this subject. I also suggest reading 'Afghanistan: Soviet Vietnam'. These two books are the best about this mainly unknown subject to the Western world.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Swinney on November 8, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has the taste and smell of war in it. You see the Kishlaks passed by at night, raging gunfire spewing forth through the day, you taste the axel grease, bake in the heat of the desert. Artyom Borovik captures the experience and the personality of the Afghanistan War that the Soviets unwillfully got bogged down in through the 80's.
Though there are several things this book is, there are also things it is not. It is not a higher level capturing of the causes of the Afghan war. It doesn't analyze the history. It is not linear. Instead it takes a broader look at what it did to the psyche of the soldiers that fought there. It spans the globe to follow those that escaped the war to America and yet yearn to return to the rodina. Borovik's writing reads like a novel and you'll find yourself caught up in the details of military operations and wonder how he got out of there alive with a soul intact.
The Afghanistan War closely resembles our Vietnam and strangely enough doesn't mirror the current war waged on terrorism, but there are lessons to be drawn from here. Outside superpower influence in countries to topple governments and sponsor leaders almost always seems to turn out poorly. The real lesson learned is to go after Bin Laden like a tribal warlord in a land where there are many factions, the terrain is unforgiving, the people strong and willful. One gets the sense that war is eternal in this country and that the people pay the price. So if we don't get diverted from our initial objectives, keep those objectives clear, we can avoid the pitfalls Borovik tells of when superpowers become involved in Afghanistan.
Don't hesitate to go get this book and internalize it. Knowledge will pull us through these times.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donnie Stevenson on March 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are actually 2 books combined in "Hidden War". The first is a few years in to the war when the writer a journalist, who has been to the USA several time and knows a bit about the west, writes as a adventure, propaganda piece. He includes the feeling of the soldiers and commanders at the time. Several years pass and the writer has been back to the USA and interviewed several soldiers who have surrendered to the mujahadin and been expatriated to the west. Also Glasnost or Openness is in full force in the USSR. The army is pulling out after 8 years of a war that produced nothing. The change in tone of the second book is sharp when compared to the hope of doing their duty in the first book.

Mistakes are made by people attempting to draw parallels between America's wars in Vietnam or Iraq. This would be a mistake and reading 'Hidden War' would prove this. The United States is not the Soviet Union, decayed and on the brink of collapse. No is the media as tightly controlled as in the first part of this book (the book was written after the Soviet Union imploded, it could not have been published before then). There are no conscripts in the American Army as there is in the Soviet or Russian armies.

This is a good book about a war many in the west have forgotten due to the current war in Afghanistan.
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