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Chechnya Diary

A War Correspondent's Story of Surviving the War in Chechnya

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Chechnya Diary is a story about "the story" of the war in Chechnya, the "rogue republic" that attempted to secede from the Russian Federation at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Specifically, it is the story of the Samashki Massacre, a symbol of the Russian brutality that was employed to crush Chechen resistance.

Thomas Goltz is a member of the exclusive journalistic cadre of compulsive, danger-addicted voyeurs who court death to get the story. But in addition to providing a tour through the convoluted Soviet and then post-Soviet nationalities policy that led to the bloodbath in Chechnya, Chechnya Diary is part of a larger exploration of the role (and impact) of the media in conflict areas. And at its heart, Chechnya Diary is the story of Hussein, the leader of the local resistance in the small town that bears the brunt of the massacre as it is drawn into war.

This is a deeply personal book, a first person narrative that reads like an adventure but addresses larger theoretical issues ranging from the history of ethnic/nationalities in the USSR and the Russian Federation to journalistic responsibility in crisis zones. Chechnya Diary is a crossover work that offers both the historical context and a ground-level view of a complex and brutal war.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 18, 2003 – Mortar fire booming in the distance, smoke pluming behind the hills and the just-out-of-camera-range repeat of machine-gun fire frustrate and enthrall freelance war correspondent Goltz as he chronicles his attempt to capture on videotape Russia's nearly decade-long war with the republic of Chechnya. Less an evenhanded exploration of the byzantine quilt of atrocity and retribution characterizing the post-Soviet conflict, this is more a personal tale of Goltz's relationship with one town (Samashki) and, in particular, one man: a fixer named Hussein who risks his life and, later, exile, in an effort to help the reporter (on contract assignment for ABC News at first) get the story. With a keen observational eye and an ear for characterizing detail, Goltz describes his encounters with the people of the small Chechen village, which suffered a brutal pounding at the hands of the Russian military in 1995. But the book's most compelling aspects are Goltz's ruminations on the impact he, as a Western journalist, has on the events that he set out to objectively report on. Citing as an epigraph a bit of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle—"the observer affects the observed"—the author proceeds to detail how his work with Hussein, and subsequent departure from Samashki right before a big Russian attack, helped cast him, in the eyes of the villagers, in the role of KGB agent and Hussein as a Russian collaborator. Details of his resulting trip to Hussein's home-in-exile in Kazakhstan round out the tale. Goltz's powerful conclusion: war leaves no innocents, let alone innocence. Photos not seen by PW.

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Chechnya Diary
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  • $7.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Europe
  • Published: Oct 10, 2003
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Seller: Macmillan / Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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