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A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  431 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
The recent murder of Anna Politkovskaya is grim evidence of the danger faced by journalists passionately committed to writing the truth about wars and politics. A longtime critic of the Russian government, particularly with regard to its policies in Chechnya, Politkovskaya was a special correspondent for the liberal Moscow newspaper Novaya gazeta. Beginning in 1999, Politk ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published April 15th 2007 by University of Chicago Press (first published 2002)
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Update: I suppose this review should be flagged because of the comment about Putin. I also think that if you read this, you will see the reasons why Poitkovskaya was targeted. Considering that, and it's importance to the life of the author, how can I really review this book?

Dobby the Elf's evil Twin Putin "blamed" the recent Russian protests on Sec. of State Clinton, who, according to him, give the protesters the secret code word.

Politkovskaya wouldn't be surprised about that. Take a look at wha
Shivaji Das
Oct 26, 2013 Shivaji Das rated it really liked it
A disturbing account of the second Chechen War. I used it initially for my bedtime reading but the atrocities depicted took away my sleep. I could only imagine what effect they would have left in the life of the victims.
Anna Politkovskaya has been accused of liberal bias, of a certain one track obsession with Russian brutality, ignoring the misdeeds of the Chechen fighters. But no one can deny that Anna was one of the bravest journalists ever in human history. She takes names without fear in th
Aug 19, 2007 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To read this book is haunting, especially in light of what happened to Politkovskaya for engaging in the kind of fearless journalism she did. The stories from Chechnya are horrific, not just because of the misery they so often focus on, but also for the fact that while this kind of thing goes on across the world the vast majority of our journalists in the US choose instead to focus on such endless bullshit. Yet, she does manage to insert some stories of hope through such horrible chaos. Politkov ...more
Aug 21, 2015 William rated it it was amazing
This book is absolutely nothing like David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.

But I'm going to compare it, A Small Corner of Hell, to it, Infinite Jest, anyway. One is a fairly short, gritty, real, non-fiction book about a war (and the other is by Anna Politkovskaya, is how the joke would go...), and the other is a hugely long, fanciful, silly novel about...? But both of them get a lot of their character from the fact that they contain so much of what they contain. Politkovskaya's book is basically
Barbara Skuplik
Jun 12, 2013 Barbara Skuplik added it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in international relations, history, rights, humanity and life
"Wherever cruelty is a norm of life, no one can expect compassion and mercy, not even the weakest".

This phrase sums up Anna Politkovskaya's raw, honest, and unflinching memoir recollecting her time in and around Chechnya. Politkovskaya immersed herself in the Chechen life, living among the people and experiencing their lives on a daily basis. Her love for the people is obvious, as is her outrage at the atrocities which took place during her stay. These people don't know peace, stability, a life
Scott Smith
iIt is hard to put into words, but there is something... debilitating? unsettling? upsetting? about reading account after account after detailed account of brutal, nightmarish crimes and violence. All true, I guess. occurring in a place I've never visited, which I know nothing about... What am I supposed to do with the images I have in my brain now? I certainly didn't ENJOY this competently written collection of... What? Newspaper articles? Polemics? Crime scene reports?

So, no pleasure for me. B
Dec 18, 2011 Sooz rated it really liked it
you know seldom a day goes by that i do not acknowledge how privileged i am. how damn lucky i am to live in a safe place. a reasonably sane place. i don't think i am particularly naive .... but i have to admit i have been naive where Russia is concerned.

i was living under this illusion that with each passing year and with each new leader, Russia was moving further and further away from Stalin and all that his reign entailed .... i believed that with each new leader, the Russian people were prog
Jeroen Nijs
May 19, 2013 Jeroen Nijs rated it really liked it
Bad things happen in the world, and I believe you should not close your eyes to them. But boy, did this book make me want to close my eyes. The late Anna Politkovskaya reports from the Second Chechen War, and especially the first half of the book is incredibly difficult to read. It took me almost a week to get through the first 100 pages. In it, she travels through Chechnya to talk to (mostly civilian) eyewitnesses of the war. The violence and lawlessness on display is just stunning.

Still, I am
Bjørn André Haugland
Let me preface this by saying that this is an important book for anyone who wants to gain real, or at least journalistic and anecdotal, insight into the conflict in Chechnya. That said, if you want a read that is not horrifyingly sad and disturbing, and which you know ends in yet another tragedy (Politkovskaya was killed in 2006) you can safely steer clear of it. I rate it so lowly because this is the first book in a long while that has changed my mind repeatedly about wanting to read in the eve ...more
Trevor Durham
Chechnya is a modern gulag, a modern Auschwitz, a modern Hell. There is no description. Anna Politkovskaya went into Chechnya, a place where academics can do no research, a place where journalists dare not venture, for they know they will be killed. She traversed behind the lines of both sides, she got the stories. She was swept up, interogated, beaten, and raped. She carves out the soul of Chechnya in these pages, tells the story, each with a guaranteed footnote that will tell you how each part ...more
Daniel Simmons
Mar 06, 2014 Daniel Simmons rated it it was amazing
Last year's novel "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" won plaudits for its portrayal of the Chechen war, and its author Anthony Marra said he based much of his narrative on Politkovskaya's journalistic accounts. Skip the novel, and come straight to the original reporting. This is probably the single most horrifying book I've ever read. But it's also astonishing, and clear-eyed, and absolutely necessary.
Dec 10, 2011 TC rated it it was amazing
Intense, interesting vignettes and commentary.
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
It is still amazing to me that the modern world finds it so easy to let a 'conflict' like this go on for years without forcing a solution that involves punishing all those who perpetrated war crimes against non-combatants and prisoners. The fact that the author was herself a victim of this genocidal war by the time I bought this book just adds more weight to this real life drama that, for all I know, is still going on right now. Politskovskaya does her best to remain objective and to provide a b ...more
Darren Perkins
Jan 02, 2015 Darren Perkins rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Darren by: Professor after Politkovskaya's murder.
I strongly recommend this book if you want a fairly quick synopsis of the history of Chechnya and why the Russians invaded it. Following that are personal stories from everyday Chechens about why Chechnya truly is "a small corner of hell". I've read every book there is on Chechnya. I recommend this one and "The Angel of Grozny". Both are outstanding!
Karen K - Ohio
Feb 11, 2016 Karen K - Ohio rated it really liked it
After reading Anthony Marra's fictional account of the wars in Chechnya I wanted to learn more about the conflict. I turned to Russian journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya. Her first hand accounts were horrifying and showed the fictional book was not exaggerated. It is awful that she was murdered in 2006 and her voice silenced.
Victoria Sadler
Dec 06, 2014 Victoria Sadler rated it it was amazing
A book on the horrors of the First and Second Chechen War is never going to be an easy read but Anna Politkovskaya's great talent was always in framing and conveying the human story and these dispatches are an extraordinary record on the lives (and deaths) of the many victims. There is such humanity in this book. Harrowing but so tender.
Anna Mykytenko
Jul 09, 2016 Anna Mykytenko rated it it was amazing
Describing the military campaign that took place in the Chechen Republic in the beginning of new Millenium, Politkovskaya has demonstrated the worst sides of contemporary conflicts - human rights abuses, corruption, and propaganda - and proved that war is always convenient for politicians from all sides because "Под шумок обстрелов тут возможно все, что хочешь: и нелегальный [...]бизнес, [...] и пресловутые «50 на 50», и гуманитарка на рынках, и лекарства, пришедшие в республику как бесплатные, ...more
Jun 14, 2013 Tim rated it it was amazing
Unrelenting, fearless, heartbreaking.

This is something that we absolutely should be aware of. But the book pointed out something very interesting - that it's very difficult to know exactly how bad things are precisely because things are so awful. It's just too dangerous. Which makes what Politkovskaya did all the more courageous and impactful. We can share all we want on Facebook and Twitter about the atrocities around the globe, changing profile pictures and hashtags -- we can write reviews on
I discovered this book by chance while browsing the many used books stores in Toronto. Being from the eastern bloc, I was immediately hooked and thus began my love affair with everything Politkovskaya. I recently have begun re reading her works, including this one, given the situation in Russia/ Ukraine. A true hero, trailblazer and gone too soon. RIP.
Nik Bizas
Jun 03, 2016 Nik Bizas rated it it was amazing
This book is a literary and journalistic accomplishment. The narrative is potent, powerful and at times tear-jerking, and the investigative work is beyond words. Politkovskaya paints the Chechen Guernica with a hundred small tales we were never meant to read, and gives voice to the people who have none. The soldiers, their victims, the doctors who take care of the victims, the people who create the victims, the exiled, the disabled, the unfortunate.

Politkovskaya was the embodiment of journalism
Aug 16, 2015 Abc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sempre interessante leggere questa giornalista, anche se ormai il libro risulta un po' "datato".
Anya Aksarova
Sep 27, 2015 Anya Aksarova rated it really liked it
Если в книге однобокая правда, то это необязательно сразу ложь.
Oct 10, 2012 John rated it it was amazing
An incredible work of journalism, of importance history has yet to properly grant due.

Yes, it is grim beyond belief —don’t even turn the first blood-soaked page if your stomach is not empty and mind steeled —but even in this small corner of hell, encouraging glimmers of the human spirit emerge. Occasionally.

Politkovskaya’s relentless, fearless pursuit of truth, and refusal in the face of indescribable brutality to lose sight of our mutual humanity — or balance or humour for that matter — are re
Dorothy J.
Apr 18, 2014 Dorothy J. rated it it was amazing
A very difficult read. It is difficult for Westerners to comprehend the atrocities inflicted on the people in that part of the world.
Lauren Hopkins
Oct 27, 2013 Lauren Hopkins rated it really liked it
Excellent inside look into life in Chechnya during and between the wars from journalist Anna Politkovskaya, including both civilian and military experience during the war as well as a critical look at the Russian government's involvement (or lack thereof, in most cases). Anyone with an interest in Chechnya's history needs to read this book.
Oct 09, 2007 Tandy rated it it was amazing
It is a great book to understand the war in Chechnya. It is a hard read emotionally because Anna Polikovskya doesn't sugar coat anything. This is one of the last book Anna Polikovskya wrote before being murdered because of what she was saying about the war in Chechnya. This is a must read if you care about Russian History and/or Poltics.
Aug 26, 2013 Liz rated it it was amazing
Gripping account of Politkovskaya's journalism work in war-devastated Chechnya as she struggles to illuminate the genocidal horrors of the Chechen people and her country's role in it. Difficult but compulsory reading and sheds much light on a little-understood situation. Highly recommended.
Erik Graff
Apr 16, 2013 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Russians
Recommended to Erik by: Elizabeth M.
Shelves: history
This is a collection of articles written by the martyred Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya about the conflict in Chechnya. Like her books about the modern Russian Federation and V. Putin, it makes for very depressing reading.
Aug 22, 2013 Pamela rated it really liked it
All the more horrifying because these dispatches were written while I was graduating high school, and I had no idea any of it was happening. Politkovskaya's cynicism about who profits in conflict zones is a needed dose of reality.
Jul 11, 2008 Kelsey rated it it was amazing
It is a tragedy what happened to journalist Anna Politkovskaya. More international organizations need to be helping in the North Caucus/Chechen region. It is comparable to the genocide in any African country.
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Russian journalist and human rights activist well-known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict and Russian president Putin.

Politkovskaya made her name reporting from lawless Chechnya, where many journalists and humanitarian workers have been kidnapped or killed. She was arrested and subjected to mock execution by Russian military forces there, and she was poisoned on the way to Beslan, but sur
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