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Afghanistan: A Russian Soldier's Story Paperback – October 30, 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1984 Tamarov, then 19, was drafted into the Soviet Army and posted to Afghanistan where he spent 20 months in a minesweeper outfit. Despite heavy operational responsibilities and danger, he managed to take artful photographs which capture the stark landscape, friendly and unfriendly Afghans and the men of his platoon in action and in repose. Minesweeping, according to Tamarov, was a highly respected assignment. Reason: "There were mines everywhere." The most haunting pictures are of the author's comrades, several of whom were killed by the mines they were disarming. In extended captions accompanying the photos, Tamarov expresses familiar but universally touching battlefield thoughts about fear, leadership, homesickness and comraderie. Returning home uninjured in 1986, the author subsequently traveled to the United States, met with Vietnam vets and paid his respects at the Wall on the Mall in Washington, D.C., sharing with his new acquaintances "something which others cannot understand." Tamarov is a freelance photographer in Saint Petersburgok? Saint Petersburg?/yikes, but a slip.gs .
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The faces are hauntingly familiar--GIs at Khe Sanh or Chosin? Iraqi dead near Safwan? No. Soviet Army Afghantsi, airborn desantniki sent to Kabul to fight the "just" socialist fight. Tamarov, a veteran minesweeper at 19, chronicles his 621 days of war in this stunning personal account. More than a photographic essay, this evokes the microcosm of combat: the last image of a young soldier who dies hours later, the dust, the unshaven, the deadly simplicity of a directional shrapnel mine cradled like some votive offering. Victims, officers, killers, Mujahadeen prisoners: something in all of their eyes that is a frozen visual tragedy. Everyone should read this book. For all collections.
- John Yurechko, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (November 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580084168
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580084161
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the one book you need to read if you want to know what it was like to be a Russian soldier in Afghanistan. The pictures and prose are gripping. I would love to know how Tamarov got the pictures out. The book is not long. I sat down to start it and was up late finishing it. I myself am a veteran and was amazed at how I could relate, as a soldier and a man, to the descriptions of frustration, boredom and fear. And the descriptions of the various groups of the Mujahadeen offered insights that I have seen nowhere else. Also, Tamarov was Spetz Natz, and the view into that elite unit is priceless.
If you want to know what Afghanistan was like for the Russian soldier, or simply what modern warfare is like in the Third World, and its effects on young men, this is the one book you need. At least to start with. The pictures alone are worth the price of the book.
I sent this to a friend of mine, also a Russian, also a veteran of Afghanistan, and all he could say when I asked what he thought was, "My God."
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By A Customer on December 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
We in America often forget that most people in this world are just trying to survive from one day to the next. Vladislav Tamarov is thrown into the Soviet Union's ill-fated military adventure in Afghanistan, and there he tries to survive from one minute to the next. He also tries, courageously and often in vain, to help his comrades survive, having been assigned the most dangerous job: minesweeper. He bravely shares every aspect of his horrifying story. He effectively conveys the harsh (un)reality of war. The photos that affected me the most were of the young soldiers, who look far too young to be where they are. A must read for anyone who wants to understand what war is really like.
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Format: Paperback
Tamarov, Vladislav
2001 Afghanistan: A Russian Soldier's Story. Berkley: Ten Speed Press
This book is essentially an account of one Russian soldier's life, Vladislav Tamarov, and his thoughts during his two-year tour of duty in Afghanistan from 1984 to 1985. More importantly, and the basis for the book, while in Afghanistan Tamarov has two jobs. One is assigned by the Soviet government, that of a minesweeper in the Blue Beret unit, and the other is a self-imposed job, one of a photojournalist. During his 217-day tour of duty, Tamarov constantly takes pictures to document his life abroad. Thus the book contains over 75 photographs, detailing his life and missions while in Afghanistan. Tamarov details how he enters into the Russian army at the age of nineteen because, according to the Russian Constitution, "To serve in the Soviet army is the honorable duty of every Soviet citizen." Tamarov explains that after boot camp, he is shortly shipped off to Afghanistan. Tamarov sees his the reason for his mission to Afghanistan as two-fold. According to Tamarov, "The first and official reason for sending Soviet troops into Afghanistan is to satisfy the request of the Afghanistan government. A second reason: Afghanistan is the Soviet Union's southern neighbor, and placing troops there assured the relative security of our southern borders." Tamarov describes the second reason as a more clandestine form of motivation, and that most of the Soviet public was unaware of this last reason.
Tamarov's book is divided into ten parts. Each part is devoted to either a geographical region of Afghanistan, where the trainings and combat missions take place, or it is devoted to personal issues Tamarov and his fellow soldiers deal with while occupying Afghanistan.
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Format: Paperback
I was in the Afghanistan war in 1984-85, the same time as Vladislav Tamarov - the author of this book. I have been looking around for books about the Afghanistan war and I finally found it - "A Russian Soldier's Story". Tamarov's book took me back to those years in Afghanistan, years I will never forget and that changed my life forever. If you want to see the Afghanistan war through soldiers eyes (literally), then you must read this book. By now I have seen more books about Russian-Afghanistan war, but only Tamarov's book really gave me the real feeling of those years over there. You guys who served in Afganistan or Vietnam know what I mean by "the feeling of those years". A must read book for everyone after 9/11, but especially for those who know the real meaning of WAR.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Afghanistan A Russian Soldier's story by Vladislav Tamarov is an intensely personal book. The reader learns only a little about the strategy and tactics used by the Soviet forces to fight the war in neighboring Afghanistan. Rather, this is a document that reflects the process of maturation of its author. He starts as a 19-year-old man being drafted into the Russian army. His naiveté in volunteering for the commandos (which will take him in short order into the task of defusing enemy mines) mirrors the bravado and sense of indestructibility that is the main reason that men of his age have been used as soldiers for as long as there have been armies.
The story is told in episodes - not as plot for it's own sake, but rather to communicate the range of emotions and intensity of fear unique to the battlefield soldier. Some of my favorite writing comes from letters sent home by Confederate and Union soldiers from America's civil war. These documents are important not because of the credentials or social standing of the writers, but instead because of the intensity of the experiences these writers were living. Vladislav Tamarov continues this venerable tradition and extends the genre to new depths of insight. Probably the most obvious lesson learned was that after such a prolonged ordeal, one cannot "go home again". The effects of fighting the fghan war changed Mr. Tamarov's values so much that he was unable to fit back into the life that he idolized and longed to survive long enough to resume. We all know many stories of disaffected soldiers who live out their lives on the bitter fringes of society. Mr.
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