“Hands off Baghdad,” Dino MC 47 raps in his 2009 single “They Tell Us.” “Hands off Gaza.” In a song that was relevant then and even more relevant today, the Russian rapper–his stage name is a combination of his nickname “Dynamite” and AK-47–decries the current state of Russian-US and Russian-Ukrainian relations, exhorts Russia’s youth to […]Read more "“Hands off Baghdad”: Dino MC 47, Russia, Regime Change, and America’s Chickens Coming Home to Roost"
I wasn’t going to write about the circus surrounding Arkady Babchenko’s “murder” and sudden resurrection, which continues to unfold, but I can’t stop myself. It’s just too fascinating, and as far as I can tell the Western press has already moved back to the latest absurdity produced by Trump. So here we go: A bombshell […]Read more "Art and Dissidence in Eastern Europe: #ArkadyBabchenko and #FreeSentsov"
Arkady Babchenko As crazy fate would have it, today was the day that the article I co-wrote with WFU student Logan Stinson, “One Soldier’s War and the New Literary War Hero,” about the memoir by war correspondent and journalist Arkady Babchenko, was scheduled to come out. Crazy fate because yesterday afternoon a notification popped up […]Read more "Arkady Babchenko, One Soldier’s War, and Holy Fools"
Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia Samuel Charap and Timothy J. Colton When protest and then war broke out in 2013/14 in Ukraine, many people in the US couldn’t find Ukraine, much less the Crimea or the Donbass, on a map, and for most people that’s probably still the […]Read more "“Everyone Loses” by Charap and Colton"
Comrade Criminal: Russia’s New Mafiya Stephen Handleman Have you ever wondered, sitting back on the other side of the ocean and most of a continent, and getting your news from sources that don’t actually know what they’re talking about, why Russia is the way it is today? Why corruption flourishes and Putin is so popular? […]Read more "“Comrade Criminal” by Stephen Handleman"
Shadow War: A Tom Locke Novel Sean McFate and Bret Witter I stumbled upon this book when I read Sean McFate’s rebuttal to Eric Prince’s proposal to turn the US’s operation in Afghanistan over to private contractors, aka mercenaries. (Eric Prince, lest we forget, was the founder of Blackwater). Naturally I had to check out his […]Read more "“Shadow War: A Tom Locke Novel” by Sean McFate and Bret Witter"
In this collection of tales, in turns lyrical and brutal, Oleg Ermakov, probably Russia’s foremost writer on the Soviet war in Afghanistan, depicts the war from multiple points of view: a boy on a date a couple of days before he heads off to basic training, a raw recruit forced to commit an act he […]Read more "“Afghan Tales” by Oleg Yermakov"
What can I say about Politkovskaya that I haven’t already said? Maybe that this book, written specifically for publication abroad, is perhaps the most foreigner-friendly of her works. Unlike “A Dirty War,” which is a compilation of her early articles on the second Chechen war, or later books such as “A Russian Diary,” which are […]Read more "“Putin’s Russia” by Anna Politkovskaya"
A historical overview of the first Chechen war, and the first couple of years of the second, with comparisons of the Chechen situation with that of other autonomous republics of the RF such as Tatarstan, and discussions of possible outcomes. This is a detailed and informative book on post-Soviet Chechnya. While well-written, it is unquestionably […]Read more "“The Chechen Wars” by Matthew Evangelista"
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"