A cold-eyed examination of recent Russian history that seems to show that there was never a solid plan to integrate Russia...




A systematic account of Russia’s emergence from the wreckage of the Soviet Union with a renewed sense of authoritarian mission.

There isn’t really anybody to blame for “losing” Russia except for “its own creators.” In this painstaking account, Sunday Times foreign editor Conradi (The Great Survivors: How Monarchy Made It into the Twenty-First Century, 2012, etc.) meticulously lays out the record, from Mikhail Gorbachev to Vladimir Putin. The author emphasizes that with the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russians were more preoccupied with their own economic viability than with political woes—a fair assessment considering the sudden collapse of price controls in the early 1990s and rise of hyperinflation. As privatization was carried out painfully in Russia under Boris Yeltsin, the West did not lend its aid in a gushing “new Marshall Plan.” The minority countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain moved for independence, prompting military action in 1994 against Chechnya and a conflicted reaction by the Russian people and consternation by the Bill Clinton administration. The enlargement of NATO delighted the U.S. but alarmed the Russians, while the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia and loss of Ukraine compounded Russia’s isolation. Conradi notes that all Russia needed, at the end of Yeltsin’s regime, was “a figure able to harness this sense of grievance and thirst for revenge,” and Yeltsin handpicked his successor in former KGB officer Putin in late 1999. After assuming power, Putin gradually slid into old Soviet-style authoritarianism—e.g., the arrest and Siberian exile of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of the oil giant Yukos; the Russian storming of the school taken hostage in Beslan, North Ossetia, in September 2004; and the resistance to the detaching of Ukraine from Russia’s orbit and invasion of Crimea in 2014, among other developments. Despite the “reset” button pushed by President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Putin has continued to show a desire to re-create the lost Soviet empire.

A cold-eyed examination of recent Russian history that seems to show that there was never a solid plan to integrate Russia into the West.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78607-041-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Oneworld Publications

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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

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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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