An erudite and unsettling but convincing argument that the new Russia is a dictatorship “approved by the majority as long as...



Relief at the end of the Cold War lasted barely a decade before observers began wondering if it was returning, this time under a pugnacious, quasi-Stalin: Vladimir Putin.

This is not true, writes distinguished historian Laqueur (After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent, 2012, etc.), but no one should take comfort. In this astute, timely analysis of recent Russian politics and ideology, the author, former longtime director of the Institute of Contemporary History in London, emphasizes that the dissolution of the Soviet Union produced an unreasonable optimism about the chance for democracy. “Most Russians have come to believe that democracy is what happened to their country between 1990 and 2000,” writes the author, “and they do not want any more of it.” When Putin came to power in 2000, he seemed like a tough leader determined to stabilize a nation mired in chaos and economic collapse. No one denies his spectacular success, but the resulting “Putinism”—a mixture of chauvinism, social conservatism, state capitalism, government domination of the media, and the pervasive sense of a nation surrounded by enemies—brings to mind the Soviet Union. In fact, Russia’s leaders believe that “the victory of the Reds in the civil war was a disaster,” and they hold a low opinion of Lenin. Although admitting that Stalin committed too many unjustifiable actions during his time in power, they admire him because he made his nation strong. Minus the mass murder or any pretense of internationalism, that is Putin’s goal as well.

An erudite and unsettling but convincing argument that the new Russia is a dictatorship “approved by the majority as long as the going is good,” and if Putin were to vanish today, his successor would make few changes.

Pub Date: June 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-06475-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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