Document Type

Book Review

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International Third World Studies Journal and Review



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From December 1994 to August 1996, Russia was engaged in the Chechen War, a Vietnam-style quagmire that exemplified, on the one hand, the end of Russia as a great military and imperial power, and, on the other hand, "one of the greatest epics of colonial resistance in the past century.'' No analysis can hope to understand the totality of forces that lend to the stability (or instability) of nations with large minority populations unless it first examines the conditions that led to the Russian defeat in Chechnya. At the center of that problem lies an interesting issue. What aspects of the Russian state, Russian society, and the Russian psyche in the 1990s played a part in the Russian defeat, and what aspects of Chechen history, society, and culture played a part in the Chechen victory? Lieven uses the Chechen War as a keyhole into the wider debate concerning the nature and course of Russian nationalism.