Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

High Caucasus book cover. Image links to event page.



Book Talk. High Caucasus: A Mountain Quest in Russia’s Haunted Hinterland
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Please join the Harriman Institute for a book talk by Tom Parfitt. Moderated by Joshua Yaffa. Welcome and introductions by Elise Giuliano.

Tom Parfitt’s memoir, High Caucasus: A Mountain Quest in Russia’s Haunted Hinterland, is the story of his 1,000-mile walk across the volatile North Caucasus region of southern Russia, including Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan. Tom’s aim was to come to terms with witnessing the Beslan school siege in the region in 2004, and to examine the deeper roots of violence there. Tom joins author and New Yorker writer Joshua Yaffa to speak about the themes of his book – memory, belonging and trauma – and to draw some parallels with Russia’s war in Ukraine.


Tom Parfitt studied at University College London’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies and worked as a correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and The Times in Moscow from 2002 to 2022. In 2008, he was awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s Neville Shulman Award to complete a walk from the Black Sea to the Caspian, across the northern flanks of the Greater Caucasus mountains. His book about that journey, High Caucasus, was published in the UK by Headline in July 2023.

Image: Masha Parfitt



Joshua Yaffa is a contributing writer for The New Yorker. He is also the author of Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia, which won the Orwell Prize in 2021. For his work in Russia, he has been named a fellow at New America, a recipient of the American Academy’s Berlin Prize, and a finalist for the Livingston Award.

Image: Darina Belonogova



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