The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
by Masha Gessen
Early in Vladimir Putin’s first presidency I spoke to a Moscow banker, with reason to care on this point, who said he detected no trace of anti-Semitism in Putin personally, but that Putin would encourage popular anti-Semitism in a second if he thought that doing so would serve his interests. So far, Putin has not felt the need to demonize Russia’s Jews. He has instead identified the enemy within as Russia’s homosexuals, whose persecution is one of the main themes of The Future Is History, Masha Gessen’s remarkable group portrait of seven Soviet-born Russians whose changing lives embody the changing fortunes and character of their country as it passed from the end of Communist dictatorship under Mikhail Gorbachev to improvised liberalism under Boris Yeltsin and then back to what Gessen sees as renewed totalitarianism under Putin.
2017: War with Russia: An Urgent Warning from Senior Military Command
by General Sir Richard Shirreff
From Washington to Moscow: US-Soviet Relations and the Collapse of the USSR
by Louis Sell
Putin demonstrated that the qualities essential in a secret policeman—mendacity, cynicism, amorality, a certain degree of overt thuggishness—also worked strikingly well in a Russian president. Whether those same qualities work equally well in an American president, we will soon discover.
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 …
by Anna Politkovskaya, translated from the Russian by Arch Tait
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 …
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, …
It’s easy to see why Oliver Stone puts up with being lied to in The Putin Interviews, Stone’s new four-part documentary. He needs Putin’s indulgence to make the series. The harder question is why Putin made so much time for Stone, given that Putin has a country to run. Stone does not have much to offer, and Putin cannot help but run rings around him for three of the four interviews.
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.)
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.