Giving historical background to the current conflict, and places in a wider geographical context, this book details the Russian invasion and subsequent defeat. It is a highly-praised account, and essential introduction to the Russia-Chechnya conflict. Legend has it that when God created the world, he scattered nations over the globe. When he came to the Caucasus, however, he dropped his shaker and spilt a mixture of every race over the mountains and valleys. Ancient travellers called the Caucasus the mountain of languages. Greeks, Persians, Romans, Goths, Arabs, Mongols and Turks have all passed through the region; poets and artists have been inspired by its rugged beauty and yet its history is a tragic one - for centuries it has been ravaged by virtually continuous war. Every 50 years, it seems, Russia attempts to take control of this hugely strategic part of the world - sandwiched as it is between Iran, Turkey and Russia and crossed by some of the most valuable oil pipelines in the world. The latest conflict to sweep across the area began when Vladimir Putin invaded Chechnya in 1999. Thousands of Russian soldiers and thousands more Chechens - both rebels and civilians - died and Chechnya's towns and cities were bombed beyond recognition. Sebastian Smith travelled to Chechnya during this period. A mixture of travelogue, history and war journalism, "Allah's Mountains" tells the story of the conflict between this nation of mountain tribes and the might of the Russian army. It is also a story of the history, people and cultures of the Caucasus and of tiny ethnic groups struggling for both physical and cultural survival. With the headlines regularly dominated by atrocities committed on both sides of the conflict, an understanding of the history and people of the Caucasus is of great importance if we are ever to comprehend what is going on in Chechnya today.