In the Wake of Warriors
Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin?s Press)
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". . . Griffin paints a piercing portrait of this notorious hotbed region . . ."
". . . discover much of Shamil?s legacy in the peoples, cultures and politics of the Trans-Caucasian states of today."
". . . a tightly written tale that will please all . . ."
It’s a well known fact that history repeats itself. Author Nicholas Griffin can certainly vouch for this phenomenon first hand. In his combination travelogue/history/anthropology lesson, Caucasus: In the Wake of Warriors, Griffin paints a piercing portrait of this notorious hotbed region, drawing more than a few insightful conclusions.
Griffin and his film-making companions are in search of evidence concerning the “first Muslim guerilla leader,” Inman Shamil. Shamil, noted as both savage warrior and benevolent spiritual leader, lead a rebellion that terrorized Tsarist Russia from the 1820’s to 1850’s. While Griffin and his colleagues find few new details about the actual man, they discover much of Shamil’s legacy in the peoples, cultures and politics of the Trans-Caucasian states of today.
Through a series of flashbacks the reader is introduced to the contradictory figure of Shamil alongside Griffin’s contemporaries. We have Taran, a film-maker with the need to be in control; John, an expatriate American photographer, and Ilya, an alcoholic translator who seems to enjoy instigating conflict with their native hosts more than doing his job. Traveling from the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku, to Dagestan, Armenia, Karabagh, and Georgia (with a brief foray into war-torn Chechnya), these searchers find themselves constantly quarreling amongst themselves, consuming just a tad too much wood grain alcohol at times, and recklessly engaging in impromptu boxing matches for the entertainment of their hosts. But their concern over personal safety is well warranted as they visit locales associated with the great Muslim leader. Kidnapping or hostage taking and ransoming plays as important role in the Caucasian economy of today as it did more than 150 years ago. Most recently it manifested itself in the person of "Shamil Basayev", a Chechen leader who, among his other acts of terror, led an assault that took 2,000 hostages in a Russian hospital in 1995.
Alternately frightening and hilarious, Caucasus is a tightly written tale that will please all who dare scramble up the muddy mountains and delve deep into the forests of a region which for centuries has displayed both the best and the worst mankind has to offer.