From the back of the dust jacket, the gaze is fixed, judgmental, and a little defiant, but the face is fresh, feminine, and rather scholarly. Inside, Politkovskaya burned -- and burns yet in this diary, written almost daily from December 2003 to August 2005 -- with a remarkable, unyielding scorn for the self-seeking manipulations of the power elite and nearly as much for the fecklessness of the democratic opposition. Her heart, until stopped in October 2006, was allied with the victims -- war-scarred veterans of Chechnya, grieving mothers, the stricken parents of Beslan children, special-care orphans, and the many other forgotten. It hardened quickly and sharply when Putin and his team entered the scene, and a bit too soon when she encountered others less courageous and less confrontational than she. The tragedies generated by the Chechen war are what she knew best and wrote, knifelike, about, including a dark portrait of the crude and vicious Ramzan Kadyrov, to whom Putin has entrusted the province's pacification -- and who, in an electric 2003 face-to-face interview, virtually promised her murder.