THE AFGHAN SYNDROME by Oleg Sarin

THE AFGHAN SYNDROME

The Soviet Union's Vietnam
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An ambitious attempt to take stock of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, by Russian military experts with access to previously unpublished archival material. Sarin (a serving major general who's a top editor of Red Star, the daily newspaper of the erstwhile USSR's armed forces) and Dvoretsky (a retired-colonel-turned-journalist) make a serious effort to come to grips with the sociopolitical impact of a dirty, undeclared war against the people of an ostensibly friendly neighbor that dragged on from late 1979 until early 1989. The authors offer a succinct rundown on Afghanistan's turbulent history; blunt analyses of the Kremlin's postinvasion blundering; orders of battle on both sides (complete with vivid takes on the mortal perils endured by the poorly trained young conscripts Moscow sent to fight rebel tribesman in a harsh land); poignant accounts of the hostility with which returning combat vets were greeted on the home front; and a kaleidoscopic overview of Afghanistan's lingering legacy throughout the former USSR. The authors conclude that, while the restructuring of Soviet society and values might have occurred had there been no enervating conflict, ``the Afghan tragedy made perestroika inevitable.'' They also argue that the costly, bloody struggle produced no winners: While the force of Soviet arms prevented the mujahidin from overthrowing the puppet regime in Kabul, military might proved unequal to the task of quelling or controlling a grass-roots revolt that was covertly aided by the US. At every opportunity in their heartfelt tract (the translation of which is serviceable at best), Sarin and Dvoretsky seize on dour determinations of this sort to remind their countrymen and the world that Afghanistan was a game not worth the candle. A lest-we-forget reckoning Ö la Russe. (The earnest text has 48 b&w photos--not seen)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-89141-420-7
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Presidio/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993




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