Bitter Choices reviewed in the TLS

The March 23, 2012, issue of the Times Literary Supplement featured Donald Rayfield’s glowing review of Bitter Choices: Loyalty and Betrayal in the Russian Conquest of the North Caucasus by Michael Khodarkovsky. Here’s an excerpt: “The Russian conquest of the Caucasus started around 1580; it is still under way. But even its acute phase, between 1790 and 1860, was a process of invasion, colonization, negotiation and genocide so complex, involving so many different indigenous nations, and witnessed by so many articulate participants, Russian and foreign, that to describe it in 200 pages requires considerable virtuosity. Michael Khodarkovsky takes as his thread the scantily documented life of Semion Atarshchikov, a Cossack whose father was Chechen and mother a Turkic Kumyk. A lieutenant and translator for the Russian army, he was so sickened by colonial war that he twice defected to the Circassian resistance. On the second occasion he was mortally wounded by another Russian defector who had decided to return. Michael Khodarkovsky has achieved a miracle of compression and shown us why the North Caucasus remains a live political volcano.”

Bitter Choices reviewed in the TLS