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THE KREMLIN'S NOOSE

PUTIN’S BITTER FEUD WITH THE OLIGARCH WHO MADE HIM RULER OF RUSSIA

A chilling, compellingly written exploration of Russian politics.

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An in-depth examination of the rise and fall of a Russian oligarch.

Russian scholar Knight, author of Orders To Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder (2017), here delves into the role of ill-fated oligarch Boris Berezovsky in aiding the rise of Vladimir Putin to power. The son of a Jewish civil engineer, Berezovsky’s relatively comfortable upbringing allowed him to pursue a career in scientific research, a background the author contrasts with Putin’s hardscrabble childhood. While Berezovsky parlayed his scientific knowledge into business partnerships with Russian automobile manufacturers, Putin saw his path to advancement in working for the KGB. Knight traces the two men’s separate careers to the point of their first encounter in October 1991 and their subsequent influence with Boris Yeltsin. (Using his wealth to gain control of television networks and print media, Berezovsky was instrumental in helping Yeltsin deflect accusations of corruption and stay in office, thereby ensuring the rise of Putin, Yeltsin’s handpicked successor.) Knight’s thorough research and broad comprehension of Russian politics since the Soviet era allows her to deftly draw linkages between the events that led to Berezovsky’s downfall as she also notes aspects of Berezovsky’s personality that contributed to his demise: “…Putin seems to have wisely grasped that such cautious behavior was the only way to survive—and get ahead—in the highly dysfunctional and unpredictable Kremlin. Such wisdom eluded the mercurial Berezovsky.” The author details how Berezovsky’s support of Kremlin whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko and his public chiding of Putin in the media were countered by a steady effort to destroy Berezovsky’s already shady reputation abroad. The result, as Knight astutely points out, was that Berezovsky’s warnings about Russian authoritarianism went largely unheeded: “His ambition took precedence over concerns about Russia’s democratic development, and his hubris blinded him to the dangers of Putin’s rise to power until it was too late. But he was far from alone in failing to recognize Putin for who he was.”

A chilling, compellingly written exploration of Russian politics.

Pub Date: May 15, 2024

ISBN: 9781501775086

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2024

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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WHAT WENT WRONG WITH CAPITALISM

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

A book-length assertion that capitalism’s woes can be traced to government interventionism.

Sharma, an investments manager, financial journalist, and author of The 10 Rules of Successful Nations, The Rise and Fall of Nations, and other books, opens with the case of his native India. The author argues that it should be in a better position in the global marketplace, possessing an entrepreneurial culture and endless human capital. The culprit was “India’s lingering attachment to a state that overpromises and under-delivers,” one that privileged social welfare over infrastructure development. Much the same is true in the U.S., where today “President Joe Biden is promising to fix the crises of capitalism by enlarging a government that never shrank.” Refreshingly, Sharma places just as much blame on Ronald Reagan for the swollen state that introduced distortions into the market. Moreover, “flaws that economists blame on ‘market failures,’ including wealth inequality and inordinate corporate power, often flow more from government excesses.” One distortion is the government’s bloated debt, as it continues to fund itself by borrowing in order to pay for “the perennial deficit.” As any household budget manager would tell you, debt is ultimately unsustainable. Wealth concentration is another outcome of government tinkering that has, whether by design or not, concentrated wealth into the hands of a very small number of people, “a critical symptom of capitalism gone wrong, both inefficient and grossly unfair.” Perhaps surprisingly, Sharma notes that in quasi-socialist economies such as the Scandinavian nations, such interventions are fewer and shallower, while autocratic command economies are doomed to fail. “[T]oday every large developed country is a full-fledged democracy,” he writes, and the more freedom the better—but that freedom, he argues, is undermined by the U.S. government, which has accrued “the widest budget deficit in the developed world.”

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9781668008263

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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