A tour de force in breadth and depth.

THE INSURGENCY IN CHECHNYA AND THE NORTH CAUCASUS

FROM GAZAVAT TO JIHAD

Schaefer’s debut is an in-depth critical assessment of the Russo-Chechen conflict that reflects a deep understanding of counterinsurgency in general and how it relates to that region specifically.

Although the Russian government officially declared an end to the Second Chechen War in 2009, the insurgency in the North Caucasus is far from over, according to Schaefer. In clear, layman-friendly prose, he argues convincingly and meticulously that Russia’s strategy failures stem from a vital misunderstanding of the nature of Chechen resistance; the Russian government’s insistence that Chechen rebels are less resistance fighters than they are mere terrorist criminals is a misinterpretation that, in Schaefer’s view, has led to the misapplication of counterterrorist tactics that not only failed to quell the Chechen resistance movement while the war was on, but have allowed it to regroup in the last two years. Schaefer, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Special Forces, wields his military and foreign policy expertise handily, building his arguments from the rudiments up so that casual readers can easily follow while also scoring insights that ought to make this work indispensable to more interested actors and observers. He provides invaluable context by explaining the nature of insurgencies and terrorist acts, details the long history of regional power struggles (and particularly the protracted hostilities between Russians and various North Caucasian ethnic groups) and analyzes the extent to which certain Islamic sects have shaped the conflict and motivated insurgents’ causes. At root, Schaefer’s argument is that the Russian approach, in deviation from Western standards, puts too little emphasis on political strategies to combat the insurgency, instead relying on vastly superior firepower in an attempt to break the Chechens, who have been waging a campaign without an end-game strategy and are destined to fail as long as Russia’s interest in the region remains strong. Whether or not Schaefer’s conclusions are persuasive, his reasoning is honest, well-researched and refreshingly free of partisan rhetoric.

A tour de force in breadth and depth.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0313386343

Page Count: 307

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2011

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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