Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire

Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire

by Khassan Baiev, Ruth Daniloff
     
 

When Chechen rebels took Moscow theatergoers hostage in October 2002, it tragically highlighted the ongoing conflict between Russia and its breakaway republic, Chechnya--a war that has claimed an estimated 200,000 Chechen lives in the past decade. Yet the true nature of the debacle lies behind the headlines. In The Oath, a heroic Chechen doctor relates his

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Overview

When Chechen rebels took Moscow theatergoers hostage in October 2002, it tragically highlighted the ongoing conflict between Russia and its breakaway republic, Chechnya--a war that has claimed an estimated 200,000 Chechen lives in the past decade. Yet the true nature of the debacle lies behind the headlines. In The Oath, a heroic Chechen doctor relates his harrowing experiences in the line of fire to bear witness to this international calamity, and illuminates his remarkable people and their culture.

In 1994, when fighting threatened to break out in Chechnya, Baiev left his promising career in Russia to aid his countrymen. First, he worked in a Grozny hospital until it was destroyed by Russian shelling. Returning to his hometown of Alkhan Kala, he and his fellow villagers restored a clinic with his own funds, and he soon found himself the only doctor for 80,000 residents in six villages and 5,000 refugees. During the next six years, he worked without gas, electricity, or running water, with only local anesthetics, and at one point dressed wounds with sour cream or egg yolks when supplies ran out. He often donated his own blood for surgeries, and on one occasion performed sixty-seven amputations in forty-eight hours.

Although he mainly treated civilians, Baiev also cared for Russian soldiers and Chechen fighters alike, never allowing politics to interfere with his commitment to the Hippocratic oath. He harbored Russian deserters and Chechen rebels at great personal risk and single-handedly rescued a Russian doctor who was scheduled to be executed. For this, Baiev was nearly killed by both the Russian special forces and Chechen extremists. Only when the Russian Army ordered him arrested for treating a wounded rebel warlord did Baiev finally flee Chechnya.

Echoing through his memoir is the history of Chechnya, a Muslim nation the size of Connecticut with a population of one million. Baiev explains the roots of the Chechen- Russian conflict, dating back 400 years, and he brings to life his once-beautiful ancestral home of Makazhoi where his family clan goes back generations, steeped in ancient traditions that are an intriguing blend of mountain folklore--including blood vendettas, arranged marriages, the authority of village elders--and Muslim religious rituals. And he writes frankly about the challenges of assimilating into western culture and about the post-traumatic stress disorder that has debilitated him since the war began.

The Oath is an important eyewitness account of the reality of the Chechen-Russian conflict, in which countless atrocities have been committed against average Chechens in stark contrast to the Kremlin's portrayal of the conflict. It is also a searing, unforgettable memoir that is certain to become a classic in the literature of war.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802714046
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
08/01/2004
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.42(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsix
Prefacexiii
Prologuexv
Introduction1
Part 1Before the War
Chapter 1Dada and Nana11
Chapter 2Ancestors28
Chapter 3Becoming a Doctor43
Chapter 4Finding a Wife67
Chapter 5The Eve of the First War89
Part 2The First War
Chapter 6The Hospital Opens105
Chapter 7Heaven and Hell117
Chapter 8Young Soldiers130
Chapter 9Raduyev and Sasha142
Chapter 10Saving Alkhan Kala160
Chapter 11Escape from Grozny167
Part 3A Fragile Peace
Chapter 12Rebuilding187
Chapter 13An Eclipse of the Soul201
Chapter 14Mecca211
Chapter 15Rising Crime223
Part 4The Second War
Chapter 16War Again241
Chapter 17Reaching a Climax256
Chapter 18Double Jeopardy277
Chapter 19Descent into Hell289
Part 5Refuge in America
Chapter 20My Escape313
Chapter 21Hard Choices327
Chapter 22Heartbreak337
Chapter 23Hope and Despair343
Epilogue359
AppendixWhere Are They Now?363
Index367

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