Book Reviews

Book review: Towers of Stone.

Wojcieck Jagielski is a savvy reporter with a sharpened mind and unbending will to describe the Chechen struggle to gain freedom from the Russian government of today.

He does not shy away from the complexity and bleakness of the Chechen predicament.

The history of Russia in the Caucasus is long, convoluted, cruel, and largely untold in the West.

The author makes it his business to travel to Chechnya, for a reliable guide and “facilitator”. And live there for a while to see firsthand how the Russian army destroyed and pillages villages, and Grozny, the capital of the country.

The result of this stay and interaction with Chechens in their homes, markets, their politicians, and guerrillas, is a crisp, evocative, and devastating portrait of people, rural Chechnya, and a time that remained hidden largely misrepresented for too long.

The West rarely hears of an honest, and long report how Chechens fight, fought and continues to struggle to gain their political and religious freedom. What we hear is always a “doctored” report of how aid workers and foreign journalists are taken hostage and traded for large sums, but never against Chechen guerrillas in Russian custody.

The Russian government in the past (under Stalin) and today inflicted upon this fierce and resistant nation unspeakable deeds by deporting them by the millions to Siberia to eradicate them.

Today Russian politicians try to destroy Chechnya economically; their soldiers pillage, not only villages, but also, in the middle of the night, break into the homes of innocent farmers, take away their young daughters ostensibly with the claim for interrogation. In reality, the purpose is quite sinister. Sometimes the victim simply disappears, at other times upon return cannot stop crying, or suffers from severe depression.

All these and much more is revealed by the author intimately familiar with the environment, the people and politics.

The author is an astute observer and determined to display the strengths and weaknesses of the Russian army. This he achieves and beyond, by interviewing Chechen politicians including one of the presidents, and registering their answers to his questions.

Towers of Stone should be required reading literature for all preparing for a military career, as well as the general public, to learn how news are bent and twisted for western consumption.

Interestingly enough, the Russian public also does not hear the true story, and when a few courageous reporters try to tell the truth they are murdered.

Highly recommended!

Hrayr Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
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