One Soldier's War
One Soldier’s War is a visceral and unflinching memoir of a young Russian soldier’s experience in the Chechen wars that brilliantly captures the fear, drudgery, chaos, and brutality of modern combat. An excerpt of the book was hailed by Tibor Fisher in the Guardian as “right up there with Catch-22 and Michael Herr’s Dispatches,” and the book won Russia’s inaugural Debut Prize, which recognizes authors who write “despite, not because of, their life circumstances.” In 1995, Arkady Babchenko was an eighteen-year-old law student in Moscow when he was drafted into the Russian army and sent to Chechnya. It was the beginning of a torturous journey from na´ve conscript to hardened soldier that took Babchenko from the front lines of the first Chechen War in 1995 to the second in 1999. He fought in major cities and tiny hamlets, from the bombed-out streets of Grozny to anonymous mountain villages. Babchenko takes the raw and mundane realities of war—the constant cold, hunger, exhaustion, filth, and terror—and twists it into compelling, haunting, and eerily elegant prose. Acclaimed by reviewers around the world, this is a devastating first-person account of war by an extraordinary storyteller.
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The best book I have read this year. Straight out of great classic Russian tradition.
March 2008. Allentown. 3.2* Nightmare vision of the Russian army in Chechnya. Shocking to read how far the one-time superpower has fallen. Why do all the books on Russia paint such a gloomy picture? What a sad history.