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Drafted into the Soviet Army in April 1984 and sent at the age of 19 to serve in Afghanistan as a minesweeper, Vladislav Tamarov turned in secret to the pen and the camera to chronicle his 621 days of war. Photographs depicting the haunted faces of both soldiers and civilians, the country's ragged yet beautiful mountain terrain, and the banality of daily life between missions and interspersed with Tamarov's unsentimental but passionate prose, in which he reveals his growing disorientation and assails his ...
Drafted into the Soviet Army in April 1984 and sent at the age of 19 to serve in Afghanistan as a minesweeper, Vladislav Tamarov turned in secret to the pen and the camera to chronicle his 621 days of war. Photographs depicting the haunted faces of both soldiers and civilians, the country's ragged yet beautiful mountain terrain, and the banality of daily life between missions and interspersed with Tamarov's unsentimental but passionate prose, in which he reveals his growing disorientation and assails his government's folly for engaging in a campaign that has been widely dubbed "the Soviet Vietnam."
A powerful example of the photo essay, Afghanistan: A Russian Soldier's Story presents a powerful portrait of a traumatic war. With images and words bursting with insight, anger, and beauty, Tamarov proves himself a poet of both the word and the image in this moving account.
Posted November 14, 2003
Here is a riveting memoir by Vladislav Tamarov. In 1984 men were drafted into the Soviet Army at the age of eighteen. There was no choice. Unless you were in college or disabled, you served. Many men broke their legs to avoid serving. Others, the more wealthy, bribed their way out. Vlad was in college two years when the law changed and he was off to boot camp. Training the men needed, they never received. Training the men did NOT need, they got. (For example, lots of time was spent learning to parachute, even though it was a well known fact that no one used parachutes in Afghanistan.) .................... Vlad was born January 12, 1965. His 'Date of Military Service Application' was April 26, 1984. This memoir really began when an officer walked up to Vlad at a distribution center and asked, 'Do you want to serve in the commandos, the Blue Berets?' Vlad kept a tiny calendar where he crossed off his six hundred and twenty-one days, one-at-a-time. Vlad kept detailed records of each mission he participated in. He had his own little code, shown in this memoir. Two hundred and seventeen of those days were spent on combat missions. In addition to Vlad's coded diary, he secretly took many photographs. This book has dozens of the pictures littered throughout, and makes a powerful impact on those who read it. .................... ***** Vlad, a minesweeper, portrays the horrors of war in vivid details. The reader can almost hear the explosions nearby and smell the fear of being shot at. Once you have read THIS book, you will never forget it! *****Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 25, 2002
It is refreshing to read accounts of war by an author who actually knows what he¿s talking about. In ¿Afghanistan: A Russian Soldier¿s Story,¿ the author is Vladislav Tamarov, who, at the age of 19, was sent as a young recruit of the Russian army to fight in Afghanistan in 1985. This book is a reflection and a commentary on that war, a war which not only changed him but had definite political effects on his entire nation. This book is not meant to be viewed as a scholarly tome on the philosophy of wars; instead, it is one young man¿s personal treatise on ¿what it was like" to be mounting a military mission on foreign soil, a mission that, for his nation, turned out to be quite a failure. What the ingredients were of that failure are still being debated internationally, but the personal musings on this young man are far from clinical in its citings. Tamarov¿s story reveals the fears, the lack of comprehension of such a mission, the relationships among his fellow soldiers, the consternation he feels toward the whole picture of this Soviet move into Afghanistan. However, Tamarov was astute enough to keep a private diary and to have a camera at the ready for his "621 days of war and 217 days of combat missions" and when the time came, his views on the whole affair have been revealed. War is not good, it¿s not kind, and its aftermath is oftentimes beyond redemption. But ¿That is war,¿ he writes. ¿We didn¿t invent it but having been in a war we understand the meaning of the word.¿ And amongst the pages of this compelling read, Tamarov presents a definition that is at once disturbing and yet so to the point. War is hell and he shows us circles that even Dante didn¿t consider! ¿Afghanistan: A Russian Soldier¿s Story¿ is a must read. And while no new theories are advanced (and the author doesn¿t pretend to offer any), this depiction of one of civilization¿s evils is worth the read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 11, 2002
'Old soldiers never die; they just fade away,' said General Douglas MacArthur in his maudlin farewell address to Congress. But what about young soldiers who are thrown into a war at 19 and are lucky enough to be discharged as veterans at 20? As Vladislav Tamarov says in this remarkable memorial - more than a memoir - to the boys he served with in Afghanistan, 'War made me grow up fast, but it made me old for my years. It made me an old young man.' People sometimes resent referring to 'our boys' over there in a war but Vlad reminds us that they were boys, not yet men, fighting a Soviet war that old men had decreed. But the old men never shed their blood and their bodies were not sent home in zinc coffins - sealed, no doubt, so that no parents back in Russia would see the pieces of flesh that had once been their sons. What makes this story so gut-wrenching is its photographs, mostly taken by Vlad himself and a few by his comrades. One picture shows a group of five of them. He gives their names and tells how three of them soon died and two were seriously injured. When we see TV pictures of American servicemen in Afghanistan today, we cannot help but notice that they all have helmets and often body armor. But none of the Afghantsis, the young Russians who served in Afghanistan, even had protective helmets, only light field hats. Should not this young Russian¿s story and those of his American counterparts, the 'Vietnamtsis,' some of whom exchanged visits with and became friends of veterans like Vlad, serve to dampen the sounds of saber rattling coming out of Washington today? But it won¿t, will it? Wars are still started by old men and their younger clones. Who remembers that 40,000 body bags were sent to the Near East in preparation for Desert Storm? 'Fortunately,' only a little over 300 had to be used. That war had a purpose, albeit a somewhat ambiguous one, but the wars that cost 15,000 young Russian lives in Afghanistan and the one that cost 50,000 American lives in Vietnam were wars that had no purpose that the fighters could understand. They had only one purpose: kill before you get killed. Luckily, in America, reporters broadcast their stories of what was happening in Vietnam and an unprecedented swell of popular protest arose at home. In the Soviet Union there was no protest because no one back home was ever told their boys were dying by the thousands. They were told they were in Afghanistan to build hospitals and help the Afghani people. In one of his most chilling stories Vlad tells how he had disarmed and knocked down a young Mujahadeen. He aimed at his head but something stopped him: 'I saw how his hands were trembling: I noticed the horror in his eyes. `He is only a boy!¿ I thought and pressed the trigger.' This is a book to be bought, read and taken deep into the heart.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 29, 2002
A beautiful, poignant, and important book, a memoir written straight from the Russian soul. The photos are stunning, the translated text simple yet passionate. The author speaks directly and with intimacy to the reader: his pain and rage, his sorrow and his forgiveness. This exceptional book will touch your heart, and you'll never forget it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.