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PUTINISM

RUSSIA AND ITS FUTURE WITH THE WEST

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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