This book acts almost as a kind of ethnology of the Chechen, at least in their recent history, with added focus on some specific ethnic groups and certain parts of the former Soviet territory. It’s also the account of the meetings of parents, the moving of families, and integration of immigrants into American society, about both the success and failures of law enforcement, and the general discomfort many Americans feels with something that is clearly terrorism also evokes other questions about America. It’s also a limited book in a lot of ways too.
I think the questions raised in this book speak to some of the discomforts I generally feel when topics related to American foreign policy crop up, and how American identity is formed both because of and in spite of the various facts of American foreign policy. In addition, the last couple of years of renegotiating the ways in which we understand “terrorism” and “terror” as we move away from Sept 11 (in time) and reopen our understanding to terrorism and terror as definitions, tools, and tactics not identities. With both this bombing and 9/11, along with many other terror events in the last twenty (which is consequently nearly my entire adulthood) terror and terrorism has been viewed by most Americans as synonyms for Islamic extremism, and especially for non-white people. It’s not an in-depth analysis of all these topics, but it does offer a lot to think about, a history that almost no American knows (including me), and clear insight into a part of the world that has been obscured by a lot of hidden history and American metaphor for a long time.