A Short History of Chechnya: Background information when reading The Man Without a Face

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The Man Without a Face

The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

by Masha Gessen

The Man Without a Face
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2012, 304 pages
    Mar 2013, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
A Short History of Chechnya

It is during her reporting in Chechnya, during the separatist wars that ravaged the country, that journalist and author Masha Gessen got deeply involved in the larger political context of both the war and Russian President Vladimir Putin's handling of it.

Chechnya lies to the south of the Russian Republic and is bound by Russia on almost all sides - it shares a border with Georgia high in the Caucasus Mountains. The secession attempts following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 were just a couple of many periods of disturbance Chechnya has witnessed. The republic, whose population currently stands at around one million, has been in almost constant battle against foreign rule since at least the 15th century. In fact, the area's original conversion to Sunni Islam may have been in large part so as to receive help from the Ottoman Empire against encroachment by the Russian Empire.

Map of Chechnya

Location of Chechnya (click map for larger image)

The current ...

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