The book is an illustrated introduction to the rather bitter Russian campaigns in Chechnya, which I found reasonably detailed but not overbearing. It’s apparently a rework of an earlier 2014 book but brings things up to date with fresh information and 50 new images.
Authored by Mark Galeotti, who I’ve not come across before, but he has written over 25 books and is considered as being somewhat of a leading expert on modern-day Russia.
I like the slim volumes such as these essential history series from Osprey as they are generally ‘no-nonsense, get straight down to the facts’ books. This one runs to 144 pages and can easily be read in one evening, which in my case meant sitting by the fire in my comfortable old armchair with a couple of large glasses of Courvoisier to add to my mood.
As I started reading the introductory chapter, I have to admit to becoming a little frustrated and found myself grumbling and grousing as I grabbed my iPad to search for maps of the area on Google. A basic orientation map early on would have helped me immensely. It wasn’t until page 20 (almost the end of the second chapter, ‘The Background’) that the first map appeared. This was a little too late for me, as my geography is incredibly sketchy at the best of times.
There are 3 pages containing a chronology of events which surprisingly dates from 1585. These pages came late in the book and I’d have preferred to see them with the introductory chapter as it would have helped my understanding.
These two minor points are my only gripes about this likeable little volume.
The pictures (and there are quite a lot of them) are nicely placed within the text and add value in the right places. Some pictures are spread over two pages, and it is primarily for this reason that I wouldn’t personally recommend the epub version of the book.
Overall, this isn’t a heavy textbook read, but it does what it sets out to do. It tells you enough to educate and inform you and points you in the right general direction. If you feel you need to know more, there are ample suggestions for further reading, although I did find Google quite helpful.
I found the earlier chapters of the book the most interesting as they informed me about the Chechnyan people and how they could be brutally tribal and violent toward each other, but once threatened by an outsider they would unite against the aggressor. However, I’m more interested in ‘social history’ than military history, so others might wish to disagree with my preference here.
I’d like to run to 4 Anchors, I enjoyed the book immensely, it was both readable and informative, and kept me occupied for a few hours.
Amazon UK Link