Anna Politkovskaya (1958 - 2006) received the Golden Pen Award from the Russian Union of Journalists in 2000, the Courage in Journalism Award from the International Women's Media Foundation, and the Prize for Journalism and Democracy from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
These books provide excellent eyewitness accounts of a war fought in a place described as "the most dangerous place on earth." As journalistic accounts, they demonstrate their authors' consistent bravery and unswerving commitment to revealing as much truth as possible about a war whose breathtaking brutality is suspected but not well known. The threat of sudden death routinely confronts those who would report on the war. Although the two books differ fundamentally in treatment, they share a sympathy for people caught between the ruthless violence of Russian forces and the grim independence struggle of the Chechen "militants." Politkovskaya, a special correspondent for Novaya gazeta in Moscow, describes the conflict in a series of vignettes that move from the devastated lives of innocent villagers, through the brutality inflicted by rogue police on Chechen students in Moscow, and finally to a dramatic revelation indicating collusion between Russian armed forces and Chechen criminals. She also asserts that the "office-loving" Kofi Annan has avoided challenging Russia about Chechnya in exchange for renewed support of his mandate as UN secretary general. While Politkovskaya offers a general overview of the war, Goltz offers an equally dramatic narrative of a journalist seeking film footage demonstrating the "Chechen spirit." Readers may recall Goltz's excellent account of oil intrigue in Azerbaijan Diary; again, his persistence has given us a precise image of how Chechen irregulars brought a greatly superior fighting force to stalemate. The massive violence of Russian forces against hapless civilians in the city of Samashki confirms the worst violence reported by Politkovskaya. Goltz's personal experience is especially valuable for students of journalism who would report on the world's many local and ferocious wars. Clearly, both books deserve inclusion in all libraries, and if their account of the sheer destruction in Chechnya did not warrant their acquisition, their unrivaled detail and immediacy certainly would.-Zachary T. Irwin, Sch. of Humanities & Social Science, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"[A Small Corner of Hell] skips harrowingly from year to year and place to place. The arch-villains are the Russian death squads, venal and brutal, and the complacent, lying politicians and generals who profit from the illegal trade in booty, oil, and captives. Her heroes are not the Chechen resistance - a gangsterish and ill-fed lot - but the long-suffering civilian population, whose natural grit and solidarity has gradually dissolved under the relentless brutality of daily life." - Economist "A personal, unblinking stare at the casualties of war." - Jonathan Kaplan, Los Angeles Times "The silencing of a voice so commonsensical and so courageous should make the new.... Her work mattered worldwide because it was true democracy in action: because, unlike so many politicians in her own country and elsewhere, she genuinely put her life at risk to speak for the little people whose interests are all too often ignored." - Evening Standard (UK) "Anna Politkovskaya... dedicated her career to covering what other parts of the Russian media either ignored or misreported. She told the stories of people, in Chechnya and the Caucasus, who had experienced the horrors and privations of two brutal wars, and a 'peace' that was just as cruel." - Times (UK)"