July 01, 2016

Wither Russia?

Trying to figure out Russia in the Age of Putin is a bit like attempting to assemble a 1000-piece puzzle after someone has ripped the picture off the front of the box. The best approach is to start with some edge pieces: pick a few points of reference and work one’s way to the center. Here are four.

British journalist Marc Bennetts (I’m Going to Ruin Their Lives, OneWorld, $14.99) traces the unlikely transformation of Vladimir Putin from a technocratic prime minister in 1999 to the Kremlin Tsar he is today by charting the evolution of interactions between the Kremlin and its opponents.

We must begin, Bennetts says, with the reality that Russians assented to a Faustian bargain in the early 2000s, when they accepted sausages in exchange for freedom.

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