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The Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten Warby Asne Seierstad
Synopses & Reviews
In the early hours of New Year's 1994, Russian troops invaded the Republic of Chechnya, plunging the country into a prolonged and bloody conflict that continues to this day. A foreign correspondent in Moscow at the time, Åsne Seierstad traveled regularly to Chechnya to report on the war, describing its affects on those trying to live their daily lives amidst violence.
In the following decade, Seierstad became an internationally renowned reporter and author, traveling to the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other war-torn regions. But she never lost sight of this conflict that had initially inspired her career. Over the course of a decade, she watched as Russia ruthlessly suppressed an Islamic rebellion in two bloody wars and as Chechnya evolved into one of the flashpoints in a world now focused on the threat of international terrorism.
In 2006, Seierstad finally returned to Chechnya, traveling in secret and under the constant threat of danger. In a broken and devastated society she lived with orphans, the wounded, the lost. And she lived with the children of Grozny, those who will shape the country's future. She asks the question: What happens to a child who grows up surrounded by war and accustomed to violence?
A compelling, intimate, and often heartbreaking portrait of Chechnya today, The Angel of Grozny is a vivid account of a land's violent history and its ongoing battle for freedom.
"In this searing journey through a traumatized Chechnya, two children orphaned by the civil war — Timur, a violent street urchin, and his sister Liana, a waif molested by her uncle who becomes a kleptomaniac — symbolize their country's agony, abandonment and lingering dysfunctions. Norwegian journalist Seierstad (The Bookseller of Kabul) includes them in a gallery of portraits drawn from her reporting — sometimes undercover — from the region. These include a kindly childless woman who runs Grozny's last orphanage; a Russian soldier suffering from brain damage caused by a rebel mine; survivors of Stalin's expulsion of the Chechens to Kazakhstan in WWII; and a family whose daughter joined an Islamist sect and died in the spectacular terrorist takeover of a Moscow theater. Even more disturbing is her chilling, absurdist depiction of the regime of Moscow-backed Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, which combines torture and disappearances with a saccharine cult of personality. (One of Kadyrov's youth groups distributed roses on his behalf to every woman in Grozny.) There are many victims but few heroes; the author finds chauvinism and Islamist misogyny to be among the reliable reflexes of the dispossessed in this wounded society. Seierstad's vivid, unsparing reportage makes this distant tragedy very personal. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Seierstad reveals how knowing nothing but anger, poverty, and conflict can damage the psyche of a child and how a mother's love is sometimes enough to change a life — but sometimes is not." Library Journal
"A sympathetic, brave work from a deeply engaged war correspondent." Kirkus Reviews
"Powerful, painful, and raw, Seierstad's latest is essential reading." Booklist
"Seierstad has produced a masterly and much needed call to attention for the international community." New York Times
"Seierstad has not written an anti-Russian book. She does, however, offer readers chilling views of the effects of conflict and upheaval on life in Chechnya." Christian Science Monitor
"Readers who were captivated by her previous bestsellers...will find here a journey equally compelling in its humanity and astonishing descriptive power. It's well worth the trip." Minneapolis Star Tribune
International bestselling journalist and author Seierstad returns from her most harrowing and dangerous journey yet — this time into the rarely glimpsed, strife-torn region of Chechnya.
About the Author
Åsne Seierstad is an award-winning journalist who has reported from such wartorn regions as Chechnya, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. She is the author of A Hundred and One Days as well as The Bookseller of Kabul, an international bestseller that has been translated into thirty-eight languages. Seierstad makes her home in Norway and travels frequently to the United States.
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