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The Lone Wolf and Bear: Three Centuries of Chechen Defiance of Russian Rule

Submitted by on Monday, 11 May 2009.    1,548 views No Comment
The Lone Wolf and Bear: Three Centuries of Chechen Defiance of Russian Rule

The Lone Wolf and Bear: Three Centuries of Chechen Defiance of Russian Rule
Writer: Moshe Gammer
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (November 21, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1850657483
ISBN-13: 978-1850657484
Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches

Moshe Gammer’s new study aims at “presenting a concise introductory history of the Chechen defiance of Russian power since the sixteenth century” (p. xi). The book performs this task admirably and, in so doing, breaks new ground. It should be noted, however, that Gammer’s recitation essentially concludes in 1991 with the fall of Soviet communism and the collapse of the USSR. There is only the briefest coverage of the postcommunist 1994–1996 and 1999–2006 Russo-Chechen wars.

Gammer’s book provides a path-breaking analysis of four hundred years of military and spiritual struggle between the tsarist and Soviet regimes and ethnic Chechens. The story that Gammer tells is a grim one of unrelenting aggression on the part of the Russian and Soviet leaderships that, on at least two occasions, resulted in genocide of the Chechens. In 1865, Gammer notes, the tsar’s brother, Grand Duke Michael, quite plausibly estimated that the “the most hostile tribe, the Chechens” had lost twenty percent of their population in the course of their struggle against Russia (p. 80). Under Joseph Stalin, the Chechens once again lost some twenty percent of their population. (Gammer’s section on the Stalinist genocide of the Chechens, incidentally, strikes me as too short.) This double genocide occurring under the tsars and communists serves as a background for the two most recent Russo-Chechen wars, over the course of which the Chechens have once again suffered heavy population losses.

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