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Chienne De Guerre: A Woman Reporter Behind the Lines of the War in Chechnya
Synopses & Reviews
Two years ago, when she was thirty years old, Anne Nivat decided to see first-hand what war was all about. Russia had just launched its second brutal campaign against Chechnya. And though the Russians strictly forbade Westerners from covering the war, the aspiring French journalist decided she would go.
There are two very real dangers in Chechnya: being arrested by the Russians and being kidnapped by the Chechens. Nivat strapped her satellite phone to her belly, disguised herself in the garb of a Chechen peasant, and sneaked across the border. She found a young guide, Islam, to lead her illegally through the war zone. For six months they followed the war, travelling with underground rebels and sleeping with Chechen families or in abandoned buildings. Anne trembled through air raids; walked through abandoned killing fields; and helped in the halls of bloody hospitals. She interviewed rebel leaders, government officials, young widows, and angry fighters, and she reported everything back to France. Her reports in Libération led to antiwar demonstrations outside the Russian embassy in Paris.
Anne's words move. They are not florid, but terse, cool, dramatic. More than just a war correspondent's report, Chienne de Guerre is a moving story of struggle and self-discovery — the adventures of one young woman who repeatedly tests her own physical and psychological limits in the extremely dangerous and stressful environment of war.
"A rare testimonial...a brilliant account." Le Nouvel Observateur
"Anne Nivat managed to travel unofficially with Chechen rebels, and her writing in Libération led to antiwar protests in Paris. But few foreign reporters have been able to match that accomplishment." Owen Matthews, Brill's Content
"Six years ago when I sent Anne Nivat on a reporting trip to the Caucasus, I strictly forbade her to go to Chechnya, thinking that the risks were not worth it. Thankfully, Anne ignored my instructions, and even more thankfully, she survived. Boldly she contacted all sides, making her way through treacherous and booby-trapped terrain, building on sources, closely observing what has certainly been a bitch of a war. Her book, reminiscent of John Reed's reporting on the Balkan Wars at the turn of the last century, bears close witness to profound and tragic events in remote and dangerous places where most others feared to tread. With her deep understanding of Russia's peoples and languages, she has fully grasped and powerfully portrayed the human, as well as inhuman, aspects of a ruinous conflict that continues to torment its victims and troubles the peace of the world." Michael Kaufman, writer and former New York Times foreign correspondent
"Not just a woman of courage, but a journalist of special insight and daring, Nivat opens our eyes to a truly ugly war. Her report is exceptional, revelatory, bringing Chechnya dramatically close at hand. I'm not sure war coverage comes any better." Marvin Kalb, Executive Director of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University
"The Russian government would like us all to forget that anything untoward is going on in Chechnya. Anne Nivat, on the other hand, wants us to see, smell, and feel the wanton devastation of Chechen life and property that has accompanied Russia's forlorn efforts to pacify and control this stubbornly recalcitrant province. In the best traditions of the bravest war correspondents, Nivat puts her readers on the ground in the mountainous Chechen terrain, and into the company of Chechens and Russians who conduct the mindless violence there. No one who reads this vivid, engaging book will ever forget the Chechen wars of the people who fight them." Robert G. Kaiser, author of Russia, the People and the Power and Why Gorbachev Happened
"Alone among Western reporters, Anne Nivat dared to report the real war in Chechnya, the war taking place behind rebel lines — without guards, official sponsors and handlers. Her book combines a thrilling adventure story with the hidden facts about the most genocidal of today's ethnic wars." Charles Fairbanks, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, John Hopkins University
Book News Annotation:
Nivat disguised herself as a Chechen peasant to get into the region Russia had closed to journalists. She remained in Chechnya for six months and reported what she saw to her newspaper ration/> in Paris. This volume tells the story of the war too, but the focus is on Nivat's personal experience, her travels, the people who helped her, the risks involved, the profound suffering she witnessed, and her admiration and sympathy for the Chechen people.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
French journalist Nivat decided to see what war was all about. And though it was forbidden, she sneaked across the border and interviewed rebel leaders, government officials, and angry fighters, and reported everything back to France. More than just a war correspondent's report, this is the adventures of one young woman who repeatedly tests her own physical and psychological limits in the stressful environment of war.
When a spunky young reporter smuggles herself into Chechnya, her undercover reports spark anti-war protests in France and change her own life forever
About the Author
ANNE NIVAT is the Moscow correspondent for Libération. The French edition of this book, also titled Chienne de Guerre, was awarded the Albert Londres prize.
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