An eyebrow-raising book that, among other things, helps connect some of the dots of the Mueller Report.

PUTIN'S PEOPLE

HOW THE KGB TOOK BACK RUSSIA AND THEN TOOK ON THE WEST

Carefully detailed account of the rise of Vladimir Putin and the restoration of Russia to Soviet-era power.

A Reuters correspondent and former Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times, Belton recalls a time, 25-odd years ago, when it seemed possible that Russia might become a democracy with a thriving economy. Then came the era of the oligarchs, who, protected by Boris Yeltsin, cornered big pieces of the newly open market economy. It didn’t last long. As Putin rose to power, he proceeded to “rein in the market freedoms of the Yeltsin era, and to launch a takeover by the state.” That project involved neutralizing enemies—and then, writes Belton, turning on former allies, a process Americans have seen in the actions of the Trump administration. By the author’s account, Trump’s fortunes are bound up in Putin’s, and both represent what one Putin associate exalts as a defeat of “the neocons who thought they controlled the whole world.” According to Belton, while the extent of the connection will likely never be known, Trump has been the beneficiary of Russian cash since at least 1990, when Russian banks floated funds to extract his organization from bankruptcy. One Russian executive has claimed that Trump has received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian funders who will likely never see the money again, all in the interest of providing “an opportunity to further compromise the future president” and, as a larger goal, “to undermine and corrupt the institutions and democracies of the West.” All that, of course, is straight out of the KGB playbook as enacted by Putin’s lieutenants around the world, with the state’s extensive financial resources at their disposal. Much of Belton’s story has been related in earlier books, but none with so specific a focus on those shadowy aides and their actions.

An eyebrow-raising book that, among other things, helps connect some of the dots of the Mueller Report.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-23871-1

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more