The Guardian’s former Moscow bureau chief provides a firsthand account of the kleptocratic spy state that is Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Prior to his posting in Moscow in 2007, British journalist Harding was stationed in Berlin; in a final, chilling chapter of this delineation of the pernicious post-Soviet security system, he compares what he experienced with the spying and terror routinely practiced by the former East Germany Stasi. Soon after the author arrived in Moscow, the flat where he lived with his wife and children was broken into, the window left open and objects subtlety moved. This sneaky psychological exercise would be repeated over the four years Harding managed to stick it out, especially after he and his newspaper had revealed embarrassing information about the corruption and repression practiced by the Putin regime. The author knew the identities of the “ghosts” who broke into his flat, bugged his phone and routinely followed him, because he was summoned to Lefortovo prison for interrogation by Russia’s Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB where Putin cut his teeth. Deemed an enemy of the state, Harding was also in a unique position to observe up close the machinations of Putin’s paranoid, anti-Western Russia, run by siloviki, or  “power guys” intent on protecting their interests at all costs and repressing any opposition. The author was on the frontlines of coverage of the Georgian insurrection in 2008, the Chechen terrorist attacks in the Moscow metro of 2010 and the rise of anti-ethnic thuggery. He proves a keen, sensitive chronicler of the growing chasm between Russia’s haves and have-nots. An astute testimony of a regime grown intractably dastardly.


Pub Date: May 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-230-34174-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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