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Catastrophic Playground

Stephen Kotkin: Chechnya, 18 October 2001

A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya 
by Anna Politkovskaya, translated by John Crowfoot.
Harvill, 336 pp., £12, June 2001, 1 86046 897 7
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Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus 
by Svante Cornell.
Curzon, 480 pp., £57.88, January 2001, 0 7007 1162 7
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... Afghanistan emerged as an independent kingdom in the 18th century, though its frontiers would change many times and it would always be more a confederation of tribes and lesser khanates than a centralised state. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, determined to halt Russia’s Inner Asian advance and ‘secure’ its own North Indian frontier, Britain fought three wars with the Afghans ...

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