Even for specialists, the actual details of what happened in the early 1990s when all hell broke loose between Georgia and the separatist territory of Abkhazia remain obscure. Goltz, an often foolhardy freelance reporter who smuggled himself back and forth across the battle zone and farther afield, fills them in. His up-close, harrowing account captures all the wanton violence, destruction of anything approximating a human existence, and mutual cruelty, hypocrisy, and venality of these brutal, often senseless bloodlettings far from the world's gaze. On the big issues, none of the principals -- not President Eduard Shevardnadze, and certainly not the Russians -- comes off very well. Goltz visited a still war-scarred Abkhazia in 1998 and provides an uninspiring account of the UN monitoring mission there. He returned to Georgia a last time soon after the November 2003 Rose Revolution -- an encounter that did little to raise his spirits.