An account of the first Chechen war written by two journalists who were on the ground when it happened, interviewing the leaders and even spending time embedded amongst Chechen units, “Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus” is both a thorough overview and a riveting story of the first war. Although it is distinctly dated by being […]Read more "“Chechnya: Calamity in the Caucasus” by Carlotta Gall and Thomas de Waal"
Reading Politkovskaya is always a draining experience, and this, the last complete book of her writings and released after her death, is particularly challenging. It is organized in the form of a diary, with daily entries compiled of Politkovskaya’s notes, many of which later became articles–it includes, for example, the infamous interview with Ramzan Kadyrov, […]Read more "“A Russian Diary” by Anna Politkovskaya"
Ursula K. Le Guin has moved from the fringes of sci fi to the mainstream of literary fiction, finally garnering the respect that she deserves. This collection of essays and reviews, while in places repetitive, gives the reader some of the nuts-and-bolts of Le Guin’s thinking, and is beautifully written and often breathtakingly insightful. It […]Read more "“Words Are My Matter” by Ursula K. Le Guin"
I read many of Kelly Baker’s essays about her transition away from academia on Vitae when they first came out, so of course I had to read them all when they were published as a collection. In “Grace Period,” Baker chronicles her–frequently bitter, angry, and desperate–transition out of academia to the alt-ac world. It’s hard […]Read more "“Grace Period” by Kelly J. Baker"
Asne Seierstad was a freelance journalist in Moscow when the first Chechen war broke out. Acting under a poorly-understood compulsion to find out what was really going on there, she sweet-talked her way onto a military transport plane and ended up in Grozny. She spent several months during the first war, and again during the […]Read more "“The Angel of Grozny” by Åsne Seierstad"
The Chechen wars (1994-6 and 1999-2009, sort of) were brutal for everyone involved. But for Chechen women, they were particularly devastating. “Allah’s Angels” documents their participation and their suffering. Getting hard data about almost any aspect of the Chechen wars can be an exercise in frustration–even things that are supposedly monitored carefully by the government, […]Read more "“Allah’s Angels: Chechen Women in War” by Paul J. Murphy"
While any Politkovskaya book is an emotionally intense experience, this one is particularly wrenching: it begins with articles she wrote during the final years of her life, including the articles that may have led to her murder, and ends with tributes–some heartfelt, some grudging–paid to her after her death by her friends, admirers, and enemies […]Read more "“Is Journalism Worth Dying For?” by Anna Politkovskaya"