April 25, 2007


C.J. Chivers Wins Michael Kelly Award

Esquire contributor C.J. Chivers won the journalism award for his gripping story "The School," about the 2004 Beslan school massacre.

The School: On the first day of school in 2004, a Chechen terrorist group struck the Russian town of Beslan. Targeting children, they took more than eleven hundred hostages. The attack represented a horrifying innovation in human brutality. Here, an extraordinary accounting of the experience of terror in the age of terrorism. (CJ Chivers, Esquire)

Mid-afternoon. The cafeteria.

The survivors slumped in the corner by the dish-washing room, perhaps twenty-five people crammed in a tiny space. Still the bullets kept coming. A crash sounded along the outside wall; they noticed that the iron bars on the window in the left corner were gone. Three Russian commandos climbed in.

They were a fit and nimble trio, carrying rifles and wearing body armor and helmets. They stood among the dead and the injured, weapons ready, blood, broken glass, and spent shells around their feet. One of them bled from his hand. "Where are the bastards?" one whispered.

A door to the storerooms swung open. Ibragim was there. Simultaneously, the commandos and the terrorist opened fire over the hostages. Ibragim stepped aside, then reappeared, holding two hand grenades. Bullets hit him as he let them go.

Time seemed to slow.

Larisa Kudziyeva watched one of the grenades, a smooth metal oval about the size of a lime, as it passed over her, fell to the floor, and bounced off the kitchen tile toward the soldiers. Her son was beneath her and her daughter beside her. She squeezed the boy, threw her leg and arm over him, and swung her other hand over her daughter's face.

A hand grenade is a small explosive charge surrounded by a metal shell, whose detonation is controlled by a fuse with a few-second delay. When the charge explodes, it shatters the metal exterior, turning it into bits of shrapnel that rush away at thousands of feet per second, accompanied by a shock wave and heat. It can kill a man fifteen yards away. The nook was less than six yards across.

The grenade exploded.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 25, 2007 12:15 PM

My father's biggest compliment was to call someone a "real human being." Michael Kelly would have been near the top of his list.

I'm sorry I couldn't read the article. What the Chechyan terrorists did is too horrible to contemplate.

The horrors perpetrated by Chechyan terrorists

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 25, 2007 4:47 PM

The Atlantic is still a good magazine, but I really, really miss Michael Kelly every time I start to read a new issue.

Posted by: K. Bowman at April 25, 2007 9:14 PM