Skip the overwrought analytic introduction to this book, because what follows is a bright, original, and highly evocative exploration of how ethnic violence emerged in the Caucasus amid the collapse of the Soviet Union. Derluguian, originally from the North Caucasus and trained as an American sociologist, uses his natural advantage to weave together two biographies -- one of Musa Shanib, the Kabardinian academic from Kabardino-Balkaria (Derluguian's home region) who became president of the Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus and dabbled in the 1992 Abkhazian war while attempting revolution in his home territory, the other of the Soviet Union, primarily from de-Stalinization to the country's demise. Shanib admired the theories of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, one of the key building blocks in Derluguian's analytic framework. The others are Charles Tilly's theories of state and revolution and Immanuel Wallerstein's world-system theories, which explains the book's subtitle. Derluguian is ambitious. He is bent on using Shanib's biography and the events in Chechnya, Abkhazia, and Kabardino-Balkaria to unite the theories of Bourdieu, Tilly, and Wallerstein, then to deploy the amalgam to explain the when and why of the ethnic violence.
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