By Sebastian Smith
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Additional info for Allah’s Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition
This is their job. Their attitude might be summed up in the colonialist maxim that the people being Introduction xxxvii brought into the empire ‘only understand force’. It is an age-old theory and one as fresh in Russian minds concerning Chechens today as it was to their predecessors in the nineteenth century. In this particular episode, the protagonist is called Butler. He is a likeable young man for whom the Chechen war provides adventure and an escape from his debt-ridden life in Saint Petersburg.
Primitive democracy has also existed for centuries. Chechens considered themselves ‘free as wolves,’ bound to no master except family and clan. This was unheard of in prerevolutionary Russia. In other eastern areas there were hierarchal societies, but the leaders were often elected by the nobles and mullahs. In the western Adygei-Circassian tribes there was a strict set of classes headed by nobles, but slaves could voluntarily change masters and often lived with relative comfort and freedom of movement.
Maps of the region are a psychodelic quilt. Stretching down the slopes of the North Caucasus are seven tiny autonomous republics: Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, KarachaiCherkessia, and Adygea. Although they are on the southern side of the mountains, within Georgia, two more areas, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, are considered part of the North Caucasian world. 3 million people. Some say 40, others up to 100. 8 million, there are officially 34 of these mini nations, most of them speaking languages incomprehensible to the others.
Allah’s Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition by Sebastian Smith