Beslan: The Tragedy of School No. 1

Timothy Phillips, Author . Granta $16.95 (291p) ISBN 978-1-86207-927-4

The strength of this examination of the deadly Beslan school siege by Chechen terrorists in southern Russia is Phillips's reporting. A scholar of the region who has worked as a translator for the BBC, Phillips extensively interviewed victims of the September 2004 siege and other townspeople to give a human face to the tragic incident, in which 1,200 people were held hostage for three days and more than 330 eventually killed. Phillips details the basic events of how the terrorists took over the school, the deterioration of the hostages' conditions during those three days, and the authorities' lack of coordination and competence in responding. The author also takes the current pulse of the town: readers will be surprised to find how little remembrance is paid to the tragedy in Beslan and in Russia at large. Phillips also gives a deep context to the events; he is not helped in this regard by the complexities of the region's history and the weak government investigations into the Beslan situation. He acknowledges these limitations and also that questions remain, including the nature of Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions during the crisis. Given those limitations, Phillips's debut is an admirable record of a tragedy rapidly being forgotten. B&w photos, 2 maps. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/05/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
Open Ebook - 978-1-78378-143-0
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