One Soldiers War in Chechnya - A Babchenko

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by Oyibo, Sep 11, 2009.

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  1. I have had an interest in the Caucusus since working there ten years ago and have just read One Soldier's War in Chechnya by Arkady Babchenko.

    It is a riveting read - I did it in one go - and, if taken as read, a real eye-opener on life in the Russian Army. The level of bullying described is incredible, as is the seemingly complete disregard for soldiers' welfare.

    It's not a book to buy if one wants to know the political machinations of the area, and the way it is written (translated from Russian) does not always make for great prose. But like 'Forgotten Soldier' and 'Devil's Guard' and others, it is a book that you will probably read more than once.

    Strongly recommended.
  2. Oh dear - " the rule of the grandfathers " an absolute obscenity . There's a documentary I saw years ago called " Soldat " mentioned here
  3. The write-up of 'Soldat' sounds very similar to the book - Babchenko mentions an incident in Grozny where they see some figures going to the Russian dead in no-man's land and apparently looting them. They fire upon the looters only to discover that they are Russian mothers who have travelled to Chechnya to try and find their sons. Sad stuff.
  4. The blurb on the copy I read says that Babchenko did two tours - one as a contract volunteer. Why for heaven's sake? This seems a pretty accurate account of life at the bottom of the Russian army, especially the rubbish standard of life, intense and un-controlled bullying, and utter indifference of the CoC. I'm just re-reading Anne Applebaum's Gulag in which one interviewee in Soviet days regarded a couple of years in a labour camp as the easy alternative to conscription. Seems as if little has changed. I've heard that even today many kids try to get a criminal record in order to avoid the draft.

    Also some flashes of squaddie humour: the idea of cooks chopping cabbages by putting them into helmets set on the floor, then firing a couple of bullets in under the lid and letting the richochets do the work is a new one on me