Real-world recommendations

Today I was hunting around in the dungeon basement of P. Library as I usually do, when a small group of my peers – who’d apparently heard about/read my blog – came by and gave me a list of book recommendations. Now, I’m not paranoid; and I’m very appreciative of any interest in my blog; but if I didn’t know better, I’d think they were trying to push a certain set of ideas with these suggestions…

  • The New Cold War by Ed Lucas
  • The State Within a State by Yevgenia Albats
  • Gay Propaganda: Russian Love Stories by Masha Gessen
  • Russia’s Addiction by Clifford G. Gaddy
  • Peripheral Autocracy by Grigory Yavlinsky (RUS)
  • Beyond Crimea: The New Russian Empire by Agnia Grigas
  • Putin’s Kleptocracy by Karen Dawisha
  • some Marcel H. van Herpen book, I can’t remember which. They’re all so similar.

I wouldn’t mind reading some of these books per se, since I place value on knowing the liberal, mainstream opinion even if I don’t agree with it (and the books are all at P. Library too). However, such a task would require time, energy, and several round trips to Rantsville, that metaphorical town I’m trying so hard to avoid. Reading these books may not be good for my health either: I’m still recovering from a bad bout of Kasparovicosis and the milk за вредность isn’t really helping.

So my question to you, readers, is: have you read any of these books before* and do you recommend for me to do the same? Even if you disagree with their content, is there anything on the list you’d like to see me review? Are there any humorously bad ones? I wouldn’t mind reading one of those. Or are these books truly a waste of time? Your input is valuable.


*With the exception of Russia’s Addiction of course; it hasn’t been published yet.



  1. Yes, you’re obviously being sent a message that you are not sufficiently adhering to the Putin-is-the-devil and Russia-is-a-backwards-shithole meme.

    I started to read the Karen Dawisha book but had to stop because it was just so bad. Lucas and Gessen would probably have you gagging but maybe their depictions are so caricaturized that they’d be amusing. I’ve read a few of Lucas’s and Gessen’s articles and that was enough for me. I wouldn’t even attempt a book by either of them unless I had a cyanide capsule handy.

    Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, that was fast!
      Your suggestions have been duly noted. I had your post/BG research on Dawisha’s book in the back of my mind as I was writing this, and I don’t think I was even really considering reading that one. Concerning Gessen, I’m already planning to read her ‘Man Without a Face’, but this ‘Propaganda’ book was completely off my radar (and appears to have been rushed out to capitalize on the Sochi Olympics. hmm).
      I don’t have cyanide, but I do have a few milligrams of polonium-210 handy, probably sent to me on the personal orders of Vladimir Putin. Will that be all right?
      Or do my peers need it more than I do?


  2. Hi JT, interesting blog. While I don’t have any recommendations for you, I think you are right to recognize “rantsville”. As you discovered, it is not the healthiest of places.e.. good to pace oneself, devote equal time to something positive (and completely unrelated to politics). peace and best of luck 🙂


  3. “Putin’s Wars: The Rise of Russia’s New Imperialism” by Marcel H. van Herpen

    I’ve read only free sample (beginning) and that was deliciously ignorant and stupid. Subject there was partly Russian history and it was BAD even by English language standards of Russian history. I mean BAD BAD.

    No… I probably explaining it wrong. “”Mastering the West: Rome and Carthage at War” by Dexter Hoyos is bad. “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin” is BAD. What introduction of “Putin’s Wars”promised it to be is something like singularity of ignorance on the subject.

    Wouldn’t mind reading the whole thing though to see if it for myself but don’t want to spend even one dime on it.


    • I wouldn’t spend a dime on a van Herpen book either. They look unappealing, and many of them seem to be pushing the same idea that Putin/Russia is fascist/imperialist. I’m not sure what country you’re in, Alexey, but there’s a good chance that your local library may have a copy of ‘Putin’s Wars’. Especially if you’re in America; the book is everywhere here.


      • I’m in US but last few years found it hard to read paper books. As I understand though some libraries have digital books as well so may eventually try it.

        Thanks for advise.


Join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.