A Novel

Book - 2012
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What did you do to deserve that a fellow soldier responds when he hears that Nicolai Lilin has been assigned to an unconventional, ultra-high-risk paramilitary unit of the Russian army. Also nicknamed the para-bats for the black parachutes that dropped them behind enemy lines at night, Lilin and his fellow saboteurs soon find themselves fighting Islamic insurgents armed with American weaponry in the breakaway province of Chechnya. In vivid, harrowing detail, Lilin relays how, under the mind-bending dangers of heavy fire, on unknown terrain, in unpredictable small villages, the only goal is survival. Under the leadership of corrupt generals profiting from the war, his unit develops a camaraderie that is their best hope for staying alive and staying human. Ultimately, the return to the bland normality of an impersonal society at peace might be the hardest struggle of all.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Co., 2012
Edition: 1st American ed
Description: 406 p. ; 22 cm
ISBN: 9780393082111
Branch Call Number: Lili


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Aug 01, 2016

Fictionalized story of the Chechen war in the 1990's. Hard to know if this is pure fiction or a fictionalized account of actual events. Very graphic battle accounts but the narrative is quite good and the characterizations are reasonable for his comrades, non existent for the enemies. Worth reading if you are interested.

Nov 02, 2015

They are fighting the Chechens (sp), not the Arabs. I found this novel to be great telling of how modern weapons have such a destructive force and what happens to people when hit by bullets or explosions. It is not a pretty sight. Also the novel provides the toll taken on soldiers in combat. How men are reduced to the day to day life of survival under the harshest conditions that humans have to endure.

Jan 08, 2014

The author of this so-called novel is a youngish Russian Siberian who moved to Italy and wrote this work in Italian, his second publication, and I read the translated text.
Sniper is written as a memoir of a young Russian who was conscripted (kidnapped may be a better term) into the military and quickly shelved into a division of “saboteurs” whose job was to engage assignments much more dangerous than regular recruits would handle. This is how the memoirist, also named Nicolai, became a member of a special team designated to fight in Chechnya in the late 1990s and so the protagonist/memoirist writes about this experience.
The narrative concentrates on fighting, primarily. It describes a thousand and one ways in which Nicolai’s outfit finds it suitable to kill the “enemy,” a class of people that never rises above a hapless, faceless collective target that gets decimated every day.
Although the author quite naturally expands our understanding of Nicolai’s fellow Russian buddies, he fails to describe their shadowy opponents. He does employ the word “Arab” or “enemy” on them from time to time but not much more, perhaps a psychological device that may have spared Nicolai and his kill-mates from reflecting on what they were doing.
I was disappointed with this book because it didn’t rise above this.

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