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Politkovskaya's A Russian Diary

Over at Critical Mass, they’re doing a series of blog posts about the NBCC finalists. The first is about Anna Politkovskaya’s A Russian Diary

“A Russian Diary” is a posthumous testimonial to Politkovskaya’s reportorial skills and her despair about what has happening to her country. Drawn from the journals she kept between December 2003 and August 2005, it frames Putin’s reelection as a rigged event that, among other things, pulled the curtain on how the government responded after Chechen terrorists took hostages in a Moscow theater in 2002. Politkovskaya, who went to Chechnya 39 times as a reporter for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, had been called in to try to negotiate with the hostage takers, but to no avail. Russian forces stormed the theater, killing not only the terrorists but also 130 of the 912 hostages. She held the government accountable.

…which reminded me of Arkady Babchenko’s One Soldier’s War. It was released yesterday from Grove, and is about Babchenko’s experience fighting the Chechen War. I read an excerpt of this on submission a few years ago (didn’t get the book, unfortunately), and I’ve been dying to read the whole translation ever since. It’s an incredibly written, macabre, and stark look at a war which few of us in the West hear anything about.

There was an excerpt of One Soldier’s War in Harper’s this month, which you can read online if you’re a subscriber. Seriously, go buy it.



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