Read A Dirty War by Anna Politkovskaya Online


The Chechen War was supposed to be over in 1996 after the first Yeltsin campaign, but in the summer of 1999, the new Putin government decided, in their own words, to 'do the job properly'. Before all the bodies of those who had died in the first campaign had been located or identified, many more thousands would be slaughtered in another round of fighting.The first accountThe Chechen War was supposed to be over in 1996 after the first Yeltsin campaign, but in the summer of 1999, the new Putin government decided, in their own words, to 'do the job properly'. Before all the bodies of those who had died in the first campaign had been located or identified, many more thousands would be slaughtered in another round of fighting.The first account to be written by a Russian woman, A Dirty War is an edgy and intense study of a conflict that shows no sign of being resolved. Exasperated by the Russian government's attempt to manipulate media coverage of the war, journalist Anna Politkovskaya undertook to go to Chechnya, to make regular reports and keep events in the public eye.In a series of despatches from July 1999 to January 2001 she vividly describes the atrocities and abuses of war, whether it be the corruption endemic in post-Communist Russia, in particular the government and the military, or the spurious arguments and abominable behaviour of the Chechen authorities. In these courageous reports, Politkovskaya excoriates male stupidity and brutality on both sides of the conflict and interviews the civilians whose homes and communities have been laid waste, leaving them nowhere to live, and nothing and no one to believe in....

Title : A Dirty War
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ISBN : 9781860468971
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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A Dirty War Reviews

  • Declan
    2019-05-21 04:22

    I read this book a few years before Anna Politkovskaya was murdered and I was astonished at the time by her passionate need to pursue the truth of the Chechen war without favoring either side. She was as contemptuous of both sides as she was sympathetic to those who were forced -in whatever way - to become part of the brutality for which both sides were responsible. She wrote from, and for, the human level. Her aim was to be a reporter, someone who saw a situation and told us what she saw. Too honest an approach, too troubling for those in power, too vivid in her descriptions of how war works on the human mind and body. Someone decided she was too much of a nuisance, too bothered by death. So she too had to die.

  • Wilder
    2019-05-13 01:26

    This was my first real exposure to Politkovskaya's work. And after reading "Nothing is True and Everything is Possible" and "The Sky Wept Fire" just before this, it's difficult to rate a book about how much I "liked" it. Politkovskaya's prose is brutal, mirroring her subject matter. I would rate this as a "must read" for anyone wanting to understand Moscow's relationship with Chechnya and the Chechens.

  • E.P.
    2019-05-07 23:07

    Anyone tempted to say that heroes no longer exist need look no further than opposition Russian journalists to be proven wrong. Although there are many heroes and martyrs amongst that group, the name Anna Politkovskaya is particularly sacred. A furious truth-teller, Politkovskay always had the courage of her convictions, descending into chaos, corruption, and the hell of the Second Chechen War in order to shine the light of her reporting on the deserving and undeserving alike. Her murder, about which doubts still linger, was a tragedy, but it is heartening to see that even in death she could not be silenced. "A Dirty War" is a collection of her articles on the Second Chechen War, here translated into English and provided with an introduction, maps, and notes to help orient the reader."A Dirty War" is neither an exhaustive historical overview, nor the kind of "balanced" reporting American readers have come to expect from their own journalists. Politkovskaya was writing about contemporary issues for a Russian audience and expected them to be familiar with the cultural context of Russia in the late 1990s/early 2000s. The maps and notes will aid readers less familiar with the topic to keep track, but this is not a textbook survey of the situation and the players, so if you are looking for an introductory text on the Chechen wars, this is probably not the book for you. And American readers, used to the the fearful faux objectivity of much mainstream American news, may be taken aback by Politkovskaya's overt presence within the text. She has no fear of taking a position and making it clear, even if it means contradicting herself: the first article, "Grave Robbers," slams the agencies responsible for identifying the bodies of soldiers killed in action during the First Chechen War for incompetence and profiteering, while the second article, "Land of the Unknown Soldiers," written after she had interviewed those in charge of the process, sympathetically lays out all the obstacles facing them. American readers may find the strident outrage that is so evident in Politkovskaya's writing to be refreshing, or they may find it off-putting, but in either case they will find it striking.Although Politkovskaya has no problem in staking a position and defending it, she does not shy away from presenting the voices of all sides of the issue. "A Dirty War" includes interviews with refugees, ordinary citizens, Chechen leaders, Russian functionaries, Russian soldiers of all ranks, including a surprisingly sympathetic interview with General Shamanov, and Chechen separatist fighters. The overall picture is of people drowning in confusion and incompetence, both their own and others'. Refugees are trapped in camps without food, water, or heating for months, but attempts to restore Grozny to habitability are stymied by looters who strip the water and sewage stations of parts, rendering them inoperable. OMON [kind of like American SWAT teams] troops are forced to live off meager supplies of spoiled meat as they man checkpoints. Doctors and the families of the wounded have to go barter on the black market for anesthetic to perform operations. Even the higher-ups are not immune to the soul-sucking nature of the conflict: Shamanov, after issuing a number of platitudes about the need to do the dirty work that no one else will, is last shown sitting by himself at a function honoring paratroopers, so lonely and depressed that "It was painful to look at him." No one reading this can be left with the impression that war, particularly this war, is a glorious business.Politkovskaya was in the business of revealing the ills of society, not necessarily curing them, and so there's more here to infuriate the reader then to inspire them. Or rather, Politkovskaya wanted to inspire her readers by infuriating them into action. A number of the articles contain direct appeals to the readers to take specific actions to help Politkovskaya and her colleagues at Novaya Gazeta in their attempts to do at least a little good for the most wretched of the people she encounters. Although now, the better part of two decades after these events have taken place, and more than a decade after Politkovskaya's murder, there is not much that we can do about anything depicted in the book, we can still bear witness. And while "A Dirty War" may have much in it that is indeed dirty, not to mention depressing, it is also a testament to unrelenting heroism, not just Politkovskaya's, but that of the many doctors, teachers, volunteers, and others who stepped forward at great personal discomfort and risk in order to help out people whom their government and the world at large had abandoned. "A Dirty War" may leave you appalled at the depths to which humans can sink, but it will also leave you astounded at the heights of altruism and courage to which they can rise.

  • Steve Kettmann
    2019-05-17 00:31

    Eerie to read now, my original review of this published in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2002:The amazing thing is not that Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was ultimately forced into exile in Vienna after a series of particularly emphatic and believable death threats last September. No, the amazing thing is that Politkovskaya was able to plug away as long as she did with her fearless, heartbreaking articles in Russia's Novaya Gazeta on the human calamity unfolding in Chechnya. Many of those articles, reported from 1999 to early 2001 during the second Chechen war, have now been collected in this disturbing volume, "A Dirty War," translated with refreshing immediacy and clarity by John Crowfoot. Politkovskaya calls herself a reporter, because in fact she gets out there and risks her life and finds out what's going on. But she does not slow down in her writing in some pointless show of what American reporters like to call "objectivity." She tells it like it is, again and again, in a way that few short of Mencken and Orwell have before her. "A real war has its own bitter and proud symbols," she writes in a dispatch from July 24, 2000. "Like May 1945. . . . This war has nothing. We don't even know if it's a real war or not. We already know that there will never be a victory. It's like some crazy, broken merry-go-round dangling little zinc coffins instead of horses." There will never be a victory, Politkovskaya believes, because even as Russian military forces have devastated the capital of Grozny and largely subdued Chechen separatist fighters, they have burned into young Chechens an ever-greater sense of separateness from Russia, as well as a hunger for revenge. The power of the book comes in the way it combines a sober grasp of the big picture, so at odds with the official line pumped out by Vladimir Putin's press machine, with an energetic exploration of the human particulars. Learning of the pathetic residents of a Grozny home for the elderly, for example, many of whom are half-mad with hunger and privation, no reader can see the annihilation of Grozny in quite the same light again. But it would grow tiresome to focus only on the terrible price exacted on the Chechen people. There are many victims in this surrealistic cauldron of profiteering, corruption and often pointless violence, and that includes young, poorly trained Russian soldiers. Often these young men are not even given adequate rations, instead facing a choice between nearly starving or getting sick eating spoiled tins of meat. Why? Because of greedy businessmen making an extra buck by cutting corners at every opportunity, even in supplying food for scared young men facing death. Politkovskaya's passion can at times make her fall in love with the power of her own observations, as when she watches a general at a ceremonial dinner and remarks that he looked so lonely, it was "painful" to watch. Maybe he was just bored? Or had heartburn? But her balanced moral imagination and restless pursuit of telling details gives her tales a way of lingering in the mind. This is especially true in her accounts of Chechen schoolchildren trying to carry on in the midst of humiliating circumstances. A group of 15 Chechen boys was invited to attend a military academy in the Siberian city of Omsk, as some kind of Russian PR gambit. The Russian minister of defense showed up for the TV cameras to get credit for this wonderful show of humanitarianism. But the venture soon turned sour. The boys were taunted by their schoolmates; graffiti read "N-- OUT OF OMSK!" The four who stuck it out, despite the abuse, were barred from taking their final exams. "Whatever happens," a teacher told them, "Chechens won't study here." The boys were basically left to their own devices to make it home, and ended up sleeping in train stations, hungry and broke, slowly making their way back. But that was not the end of the indignity, or the deep cynicism behind the whole episode. Even after the fiasco, a Russian military officer still wanted to milk the episode for PR value. "Chechen lads are studying in Omsk," he said on TV. "Now they're on holidays and soon they will return there." To which Politkovskaya asks a reasonable question: "Who was he trying to fool?" Elsewhere, she visits a tent-school for refugee children and records their essays on the idea of home, including this one by a girl named Marina: "My city Grozny always radiated beauty and goodness. But now all that is gone like a beautiful dream and only memories remain. The war is blind, it doesn't see the city, the school or the children. . . . Soldiers! Think of your children, of your own childhood! . . . Leave us alone! We want to go home." Since Sept. 11, the United States and its key Western European allies have all agreed not to put pressure on Russia over allegations of persistent human- rights violations in Chechnya. Such is the price of coalition-building. But no one reading Politkovskaya's brave collection can quite take at face value the repeated Russian claims, recently echoed in Washington, London and Berlin, that in Chechnya the Russians are merely cracking down on "terrorists." There have been some links between Chechen separatists and Osama bin Laden, and a truly independent Chechnya would most certainly be a Muslim state. But that does not justify repeatedly killing civilians, indeed, targeting them, as Politkovskaya shows, all in the name of fighting terrorism. It may take some time before any of the world's attention returns to Chechnya, which has been seeking independence from Moscow for generations. But it's unlikely that many readers of Politkovskaya will have as much success as many world leaders apparently have had in pushing the human tragedy of Chechnya out of their minds. Steve Kettmann, a finalist for the 2001 Online Journalism Award in commentary, lives in Berlin. article appeared on page RV - 6 of the San Francisco Chronicle

  • Phillip
    2019-05-24 02:24

    I would give this book 10 stars if I could...on par with the greatest journalistic novels, Politkovskaya's book traces the first wave of the war Russia waged on the Chechen people. Politkovskaya was one of the few writers to go there, live there, endure torture and other forms of abuse, all in the name of telling it like it is. Not only a great book by a great writer on the subject of freedom, this book is a testament to this woman's courage...the parallels between US/Iraq and Russia/Chechnaya are also interesting...

  • Jesse Morrow
    2019-05-09 03:30

    Pundits have started yammering about a "new Cold war" with Russia after the Crimean Crisis. Somehow Russian interests on its borders and in the "Near Abroad" have been cast as "revisionist Soviet aggression."Yet a look into 200 years of Russian Imperialism in the Caucusus would challenge that notion. Russia's second great novelist, Mikhail Lermontov, lived and died (in a duel no less) in this part of the Czarist "Near Abroad." Pechorin, his great Hero of Our Time, traveled the same Dagestan, Chechnya and Ossetia that Lermontov did.In the 170 years since: the serfs were freed; the Czar lost, regained and lost again power; Utopian socialism rose and fell; Stalinist socialism crumbled into the dust of history. Yet, through it all, young Russian men have been sent to the Caucusus at the behest of the Kremlin.When the then new Russian President, Vladimir Putin, sent Russian troops into the Second (or by my count "Sixth" going back to 1818) Chechen War, these troops were not accompanied by a novelist. Instead, it was a journalist. Anna Politkovskaya documents the atrocities of both sides and the failures of the Russian regime to protect its own people and soldiers. A Dirty War becomes the Second Chechen War's Babi Yar. With the atrocities and failures, Politkovskaya also unravels the myth of the new "Liberal Democracy" in Russia.A Dirty War is also yet another brick covering the tomb of the "End of History." The attacks on the press she documents show that the New Russia is not all that dissimilar from Czarist Russia or the Soviet Union. The racist fury and anti-Muslim furor of the Russian "blue" Army seethes below the surface. And when it boils to the top it is in acts of violence that are the same as those of the Soviet "International." Yet they still achieve the same end: defending the Russian Empire based in Moscow.The Second chechen war is a battleground Lermontov, Alexander II, Stalin and Yevtushenko would recognize. But in a larger sense, lies at the very essence of all human conflict. Some how we can view our violence as "good" while the violence of "terrorists" or "Communists" or "Czarists" is done for "evil." Politkovskaya herself was killed by the agents of the "new Czar" or "Revisionist Soviet" who sits in Moscow - fighting the same battles fought for the last 200 years.

  • James
    2019-05-17 02:13

    I have already read Babchenko's war memoir, and this only reinforces the horror of that book. Everyone involved in the tragedy of Chechnya was so terribly brutalized. This book killed me a little.

  • Heather
    2019-05-13 00:32

    I don't have the proper words to describe this book. Eye-opening and tragic doesn't begin to cover it. Anna Politkovskaya's bravery, tenacity, intelligence and compassion seeps from every word. I had to stop several times and weep, knowing what happened to her. Journalists who tell the truth are a threat in Russia, and she had nothing but scathing criticism for the government. I hoped I would better understand the nature of the recent Chechen conflicts by reading this. And if this book is any indication, what it comes down to was not a matter of separatism vs. nationalism, nor any kind of political ideology at all. It was all about war profiteering, under the guise of "fighting terrorism," with each side just as corrupt as the other. Those who suffered the most were civilians who wanted nothing to do with the fighting in the first place. As Politkovskaya says several times herself, "cynical" and "senseless" don't even begin to describe it. And, sadly, we have only seen this type of conflict repeat in recent years, in Ukraine as well as Syria. I only hope one day we learn from lessons like this one. Politkovskaya died to bring these abuses and atrocities to light. I don't want her sacrifice to have been in vain.

  • Aurelia
    2019-04-25 20:24

    Greatly written eyes-opening sad book!

  • Courtney
    2019-05-07 22:24

    My knowledge on the Chechen Wars is extremely limited. The only thing I really knew about them was what Anthony Loyd covered in his book My War Gone By, I Miss it So. While the chapter on it didn't exactly seem to fit the rest of the book, I really enjoyed it and at the same time was repulsed by how terrible the war there sounded. Anna Politkovskaya's A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya came up when I was browsing other books on Amazon. It wasn't overly long so I decided to pick it up.The book didn't end up being what I thought, or hoped, it would be. I'm not super familiar with journalist accounts of war, as the only two I've read are the aforementioned book by Loyd and Peter Maass' Love Thy Neighbor. However, those two books, in my opinion, give a great insight into war from a journalist's perspective. Lots of action, stories of incredible sadness and appalling brutality, along with plenty of near-death experiences for the journalists themselves. Politkovskaya's book is more about the politics of the Second Chechen War than anything else. Because of this, there's no you-are-there-ness to the story and it failed to draw me in from the get-go. This book is also a collection of articles, so it is not a narrative of her time in Chechnya and Ingushetia.A Dirty War starts off with an introduction by Thomas de Waal and for the most part I liked it. It gives an overview of both Chechen Wars, but I found it a bit difficult to understand, maybe because it wasn't quite thorough enough. I thought maybe once I got into the book things would become clearer, but because it's based on politics, that didn't really happen. Politkovskaya writes about many different topics and it's very easy to see that she would not have been well liked among certain Russian circles. Bodies of exhumed Russian soldiers were left untouched for long periods of time, resulting in not being able to be easily identified. Russian soldiers were pulled into the war with only very minimal training. While the Russian government promised aid to Chechnya, rarely did this ever actually turn up. Ridiculous curfews imposed on locals. The terrible situation refugees faced, etc.Throughout the book I simply felt detached. I feel bad saying it, but I really did not enjoy this book. It is a very quick read, but nothing stayed with me, nothing affected me; I was never there with the reporter. I read it simply to finish reading it and I'm glad I'm done. Regardless, A Dirty War is a testament to what a corrupt business both war and politics are, as well as to Politkovskaya's bravery in reporting things as they were, not filtering them to make the government and the situation to sound better than it was.

  • Tim Swift
    2019-05-21 02:10

    At a time of understandable cynicism about some of what passes for journalism, it's important to be reminded that reporters continue to risk their lives to try to shine a light on the world's dark places. (A message given impact by our knowledge of the murder of the author some dozen or so years later).In 1999, the first Putin Government in Russia rekindled the war in Chechnya. Anna Politkovskaya spent the next two years visiting Chechnya, Daghestan and Ingushetia, talking to soldiers and residents alike, spending time in refugee camps, with army recruits, and back in Moscow, often at real risk of physical harm which she never dramatises.Whilst her coverage is scathing and outspoken over the record and behaviour of Putin's government, neither does she spare the Chechen authorities and terrorists, nor the Western aid agencies when they denounce one side but fail to condemn the abuses committed by the other.Whether it is the gross and deliberate abuses she hears about, invetigates and tries to abuse, or the less obviously cruel but equally destructive results of bureaucratic incompetence and inertia, her reports are frank and devastating. It's hard not to weep at the articles telling of the attempts to rescue the abandoned residents of an older people's home in Groszny, for example - and the stupidity and lies that then leads to the same older people being returned and abandoned again because it suited a PR story.Most of all, this book is important not just as a record of brutality, but for the attempts to tell the stories of the civilians whose lives are devastated by events they cannot control, leaving them, as the text on the book jacket says, with "nowhere to live and nothing and no one to believe in."

  • Daniela
    2019-05-22 03:21

    I have always had special feelings toward what happened to Anna Politkovskaya, her journalistic work during Putin's rise and the way she was killed back in 2006. Therefore, I decided to read all her books, starting with "A Dirty War" that is portraying the war in Chechenya through her articles in Novaya Gazeta. While in Russia "society was hungry for "bad" Chechens", somewhere South of Russia was happening the second Chechen war, where thousands and thousands of lives were sacrificed daily on the altar of OIL revolution, for nothing but millions of dollars. Politkovskaya relates stories from the federal forces, the Russian troops and from simple people's villages, and what is the most heartbreaking conclusion is that Chechenya had no time for the truth, and people had no desire for freedom - all they wanted was basic peace and means to give their families safe housing and food. At some point, while reading, you just keep asking yourself: What difference does it make, in the end, if you die from hunger of from bombing?A Dirty War reminded me of what is happening nowadays in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Nigeria, and the “Just because it’s not happening here, doesn’t mean it’s not happening” campaing for Save Syria's Children - The world is continously game page for forces to clash, while people's lifes are hanging by a chance of fate.

  • Joel Trono-Doerksen
    2019-04-30 22:24

    Really good book for anyone interested in the Second Chechen War. It documents all of Anna Politkovskaya's articles she wrote for a Russian newspaper in the late 90's and early 2000's. This isn't really a historical book and doesn't go through the tedious list of dates and names that a history book would (although I sort of prefer that) It gives you events on the ground from the viewpoint of this journalist reporting on the war. She interviews Chechen fighters, Ingush refugees, Russian soldiers and their mothers and various government officials. The writing is very interesting because it is written for the Russian public to know what is going on inside Chechnya and how brutal the war is. There are some very graphic and heart wrenching articles especially the entry that records Chechen children, 8 to 9 years old, writing about their "homeland". Here is one of the excerpts: "Bislan Dombaev: My homeland is the most beautiful and richest country. I was born in Grozny. We lived in Chernoreche. Our village was very beautiful. But now when you look at our homeland you don't even want to cry even, you no longer want to live. All had been bombed into the ground and destroyed. My kind, quite innocent little homeland.Our country is being bombed. Its young people are tormented Grown-ups and little children are being killed, one after another. What kind of lawlessness is this? What did our people ever do wrong? Why are we suffering?"

  • Harker US Library
    2019-04-27 02:12

    Few people knew of Chechnya before the Boston Marathon bombing; even fewer people know of the struggles that have pervaded Chechnya's short history, and the two Chechen Wars from 1994-6 and 1999-2000 fought on its soil. In this collection of articles, Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist for the Novaya Gazeta, paints a harsh, glaring picture of the fate of the civilians, Russians and Chechens alike, who were the main victims of the early crossfire between the Russian federal forces and the Chechen fighters and later the actual targets of gross atrocities committed by both soldiers and rebels during the second war. This book may be difficult for those not particularly well-versed in international affairs, but I was able to comprehend most of the politics through both textual clues and my own inferences. Moreover, the countless inexcusable crimes and massacres chronicled in A Dirty War makes it a difficult book to go through without tearing up in grief and frustration over the injustices. Despite these obstacles, A Dirty War is a moving work of literature and anyone who does finish would agree the messages it conveys makes it well-worth the time. - Alice W. '16

  • Jule
    2019-05-04 02:32

    I am impressed by this book.Anna Politkovskaya addresses and writes about the war going on in Chechnya in 1999 to 2001. Knowing the circumstances under which she went to Chechnya and Ingushetia, and knowing about her own assassination in October 2006, the straightforwardness and detailedness of her writing display the admirable courage and love for peace of a human being that struggles to accept the injustice and violence present in her own country. Having people like her among us, there is hope for humanity.

  • Joe Petri
    2019-05-20 01:11

    As the title promises, the focus of the reporting in the books is less about the war and more about the graft and corruption of all parties involved from the Kremlin to the freedom fighters. Probably a great read for someone already versed in the parties and politics of the Chechen wars, the cast of players was a little broad for me and as a series of articles, there's no real narrative to help fill in those content gaps.

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-14 03:09

    Reading this reminds me again what a loss Anna Politkovskaya's murder was, not just to Russia, but really to the whole world. Her fearless reporting, as well as her eye for the human detail, makes this book vivid and heartbreaking.

  • Marieke
    2019-05-10 22:12

    I need to read more about the Caucasus. And then read this again.

  • Ruth
    2019-05-02 23:21

    A little journalistic truth about Chechnya.

  • Joshua Duffy
    2019-05-24 23:05

    Politkovskaya seemed a fearless woman. This is a powerful book.

  • Splashconception
    2019-05-02 00:14

    I didn't finish...I got bored with it and distracted by another novel, will have to try again when I am ready.