Robert Cottrell has served as a Moscow bureau chief for both The Economist and the Financial Times. (June 2007)


Death Under the Tsar

A Russian Diary: A Journalist's Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin's Russia

by Anna Politkovskaya, translated from the Russian by Arch Tait, with a foreword by Scott Simon
You used to be able to view Russia optimistically as an emerging democracy with a lot of rough edges. Now it seems to be all rough edges and no democracy to speak of. It is disconcerting to find how accurate a guide Mussolini’s “Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism” can …

The Emperor Vladimir

Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy

by Anna Politkovskaya, translated from the Russian by Arch Tait

Putin's Russia

by Lilia Shevtsova,translated from the Russian by Antonina W. Bouis
“This book is about Vladimir Putin,” says Anna Politkovskaya, a leading Russian journalist, “but not, as he is normally viewed in the West, seen through rose-coloured glasses.” Which may seem a puzzling way to start. There is a lot of indifference toward Putin in the West. There is a lot …

The Emperor Putin

Cold Peace: Russia's New Imperialism

by Janusz Bugajski

Inside Putin's Russia: Can There be Reform Without Democracy?

by Andrew Jack
Run your finger around the borders of Russia, and you begin to realize what a worrying place the world must seem when viewed from the Kremlin. Ukraine, supposedly the closest and best-loved of Russia’s immediate neighbors, has just biffed its big brother on the nose by electing a West-backed president, …

An Icelandic Saga

Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended

by Jack F. Matlock Jr.
The passage of time has been kind to the reputation of Ronald Reagan, less so to that of Mikhail Gorbachev. The reappraisals of Reagan provoked by his death in June were so handsome as to undermine the proposition that the only unwelcome publicity for a politician is an obituary notice.

Russia: Unmanifest Destiny

Taming the Wild Field: Colonization and Empire on the Russian Steppe

by Willard Sunderland

History, Memory, and Identity in Post-Soviet Estonia: The End of a Collective Farm

by Sigrid Rausing
Foreigners have tended to see Russia as a state with an excessive appetite for land, whereas Russians have tended to see themselves as a naturally restless people. It is a matter of national pride to Russians, even of national identity, that their borders stretch for thousands of miles in every …

Putin’s Trap

Violent Entrepreneurs: The Use of Force in the Making of Russian Capitalism

by Vadim Volkov

Across the Moscow River: The World Turned Upside Down

by Rodric Braithwaite
When I began working as a foreign correspondent in Moscow in 1995, the chaos of the place was, from a narrow professional point of view, one of its more attractive features. Nobody was absolutely sure of anything, which meant that your guesses about what was happening were as good as …


Denis Dutton, Intellectual Entrepreneur

Denis Dutton, the founder of Arts & Letters Daily, in his office at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, August 3, 2002

For a man of his age and background—a non-techy, 50-something, university professor—Denis Dutton was a crucial few years ahead of his time in understanding the Internet. He saw its potential as a publishing platform. (He was also an early publisher of e-books.) He anticipated information overload. With Arts & Letters Daily, he identified a market for what media people now call “curating,” which is to say, selecting and recommending content for a particular audience. All this was at a time when the Web was still, by and large, a morass of dial-up connections and bad typography in need of a decent search engine. (In 1998, Google was still in a garage.)

Moscow’s Espionage Addiction

Headquarters of the former KGB at Lubyanka Square in downtown Moscow, August 14, 1995

The arrest of ten Russian spies in America on June 27, and the exchange of them last week for four Russians accused of spying for the West, has brought inevitable comparisons with the Cold War. But really, it has little to do with war or peace. Russia simply cannot help itself. For most governments, espionage is a tool, used for gathering intelligence abroad. In post-Cold War Russia it is a passion, even an organizing principle, and it begins at home. The Tsars had the Third Department and the Okhrana as their eyes and ears. The Communists had the KGB. Russia is generally freer now than it was under communism, but its spy-chiefs are, if anything, even more entrenched. No longer is it the government that is running the spies. The spies are running the government.