Breezy but informative and especially useful for readers contemplating a move to Russia for business or pleasure.



A sometimes-jokey but insightful insider’s guide to modern Russia and the Russian mind.

Ask a Russian what he or she is proudest of in the nation’s history, and the answer will likely be, first, defeating the Nazis and, second, annexing Crimea. “A petty land grab,” writes Latvia-born, Berlin-based magazine editor and journalist Idov (Ground Up, 2009, etc.), “beat out Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin’s space flights, ‘the achievement of Russian science,’ and ‘great Russian literature.’ ” These hallmarks of a triumphant Russia are easily played, as Vladimir Putin has long known. Idov, who ran GQ Russia from 2012 to 2014—he writes entertainingly of the human resources nightmare of trying to fire feckless staffers—is well-versed in the politics of hipster culture as well as the upper echelons of government. The band Pussy Riot may have been adopted as mascots of punky resistance by U2 and Madonna, but at home they’re seen differently, for “no stadium-playing Russian musician…would feel professional affinity with a group of masked activists running around quoting Julia Kristeva.” The Putin government’s take, meanwhile, like that of many Russians, is that the band’s Western supporters are all enemies of the state. “In the Russian mind,” writes Idov, “[Red Hot Chili Peppers singer] Anthony Kiedis takes direct dictation from Foggy Bottom.” Roaming into matters such as the recent conflict with Ukraine over territorial claims, the author considers broadly different perceptions of the world between ordinary Russians and Westerners—as he notes, even the word “Ukraine” means very different things in Ukrainian and Russian. Perhaps most newsworthy, speaking of different perceptions, he offers a sighting of Donald Trump Jr. in Moscow and ventures the thought that the Trumps don’t consider Russians of their circle to be foreign agents precisely because “they belong to the same global class, that of second-rate nightclubby strivers; they are all compatriots in a supranational state of poshlust.”

Breezy but informative and especially useful for readers contemplating a move to Russia for business or pleasure.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-22315-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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