By Sebastian Smith

Publish yr note: First released in 1998

Ancient travelers referred to as the Caucasus the mountain of languages. Greeks, Persians, Romans, Goths, Arabs, Mongols and Turks have all gone through the sector; poets and artists were encouraged by way of its rugged good looks and but its background is a sad one - for hundreds of years it's been ravaged by means of nearly non-stop warfare. each 50 years, it kind of feels, Russia makes an attempt to take regulate of this highly strategic a part of the area - sandwiched because it is among Iran, Turkey and Russia and crossed via essentially the most invaluable oil pipelines on the planet.

The most recent clash to comb around the zone all started whilst Vladimir Putin invaded Chechnya in 1999. hundreds of thousands of Russian infantrymen and hundreds of thousands extra Chechens - either rebels and civilians - died and Chechnya's cities and towns have been bombed past popularity. Sebastian Smith travelled to Chechnya in this interval.

A mix of travelogue, historical past and struggle journalism, Allah's Mountains tells the tale of the clash among this state of mountain tribes and the could of the Russian military. A relocating instance of the way background might be written. Smith's account of the ancient historical past to the clash reads like a unique, yet higher, since it additionally has the intimacy and immediacy of an eyewitness account. He has given us a memorable, well-researched account of a above all terrible battle. - Literary assessment it is a riveting ebook, written with virtually seemless beauty. - overseas Affairs

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Additional info for Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya

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To Russians, the Caucasus are the enfant terrible of an empire. The region may be beautiful, but the people are suspect. Conveniently for xenophobes, and Moscow’s notorious police, most of the Caucasians are dark-haired and dark-eyed. Forget all the variety. ’ In Moscow, the Caucasians you’re most likely to see are fruit sellers sitting behind huge piles of green, yellow and red fruits, the gift of their lush homeland. Invariably, these cheorny seem to have the edge on competitors – more stalls, more choice, lower prices – and that causes resentment among the Russians.

Or, had he in fact prevented the secret services from carrying out another massacre? The question was never satisfactorily answered. As so often in Russia, the truth could well lie in unexplored corners. Maybe Dagestanis or even Basayev were behind some of the bombs. The first bomb attack did not target civilian apartments within Russia proper, but military housing in Dagestan. This quite plausibly could have been the work of Dagestani or Chechen guerrillas. After all, they were fighting with Russian forces in that very region.

P65 9 6/12/2000, 11:04 am 10 Allah’s Mountains But Caucasians carry that extra element of menace – whatever the map says, they’re foreign, aliens. The racism cuts both ways. Caucasians may be back-stabbing, thieving and primitive, but Russians are cowardly, brutish, godless. Ask anyone. As one earnest Chechen said to me: ‘The Russians, who are they? They’re gypsies, nothing better. They have nothing of their own so they take from other people. ’ Television news from the North Caucasus paints an unremitting scene of hostage-takings, bomb explosions and incomprehensible ethnic disputes.

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