Allah’s Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition by Sebastian Smith

By Sebastian Smith

A mix of travelogue, historical past and warfare journalism, Allah's Mountains tells the tale of the clash among this kingdom of mountain tribes and the could of the Russian military. it's also a narrative of the heritage, humans and cultures of the Caucasus and of tiny ethnic teams suffering for either actual and cultural survival.

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Extra info for Allah’s Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition

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As one earnest Chechen said to me: ‘The Russians, who are they? They’re gypsies, nothing better. They have nothing of their own so they take from other people. ’ Television news from the North Caucasus paints an unremitting scene of hostage-takings, bomb explosions and incomprehensible ethnic disputes. The other, acceptable side of the Caucasus which reaches Russian living rooms is folklore, such as the occasional performance on variety shows by child actors dressed up in fur hats, Cherkessk, and kinzhal.

Although these figures might be somewhat rosy – many North Caucasians speak a corrupted, Russified form of their language – the record, compared for example to Gaelic in Britain, is remarkable. That ancient nations such as the Rutuls, a Dagestani people who only number 20,000, still speak their languages and live in their mountain territory seems nothing less than a miracle. In the past, tribes were divided by language and valley walls, but they had the same warrior culture and, in many cases, common cause against Russian colonisation.

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.

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