For those who only know the Caucasus from recent conflicts—in Chechnya, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabagh and elsewhere—this book offers a vital historical perspective. Although Orthodox Russia battled Islamic powers on and off for centuries, Russia’s longest war, waged against hardline Islamists, lasted a full generation in the nineteenth century. Led by an inspiring mullah, Shamil, Daghestanis, Chechens, and other indigenous groups bloodied the czar’s armies one after another, and their long jihad failed only when Imperial Russian forces literally cut down the vast forests that hid them and, in great strength, cornered the insurgents in their mountain retreats. This is the history behind Russian “frontier” classics by authors such as Tolstoy and Lermontov, and it offers enduring insights into Russia’s culturally specific approach to counter-insurgency. Finely researched, it’s also superbly written.
Ralph Peters is the author of twenty-nine books, including works on strategy and military affairs, as well as best-selling, prize-winning novels. He has published more than a thousand essays, articles, and columns. As a US Army enlisted man and officer, he served in infantry and military Intelligence units before becoming a foreign area officer and global scout. After retiring in 1998, he covered wars and trouble spots in the Middle East and Africa. He now concentrates on writing books but remains Fox News’s strategic analyst. His latest novel, Hell or Richmond, a gritty portrayal of Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign, follows his recent New York Times best seller, Cain at Gettysburg, for which he received the 2013 Boyd Award for Literary Excellence in Military Fiction from the American Library Association. Video: Ralph Peters on the importance of military history education in the military. Peters is also the author of the Civil War novel, The Damned of Petersburg.