August booklist

These books keep showing up when I’m sleeping, man!

Russia and the West from Alexander to Putin: Honor in International Relations by Andrei Tsygankov (2013)

Since Russia has re-emerged as a global power, its foreign policies have come under close scrutiny. In Russia and the West from Alexander to Putin, Andrei P. Tsygankov identifies honor as the key concept by which Russia’s international relations are determined. He argues that Russia’s interests in acquiring power, security and welfare are filtered through this cultural belief and that different conceptions of honor provide an organizing framework that produces policies of cooperation, defensiveness and assertiveness in relation to the West. Using ten case studies spanning a period from the early nineteenth century to the present day including the Holy Alliance, the Triple Entente and the Russia-Georgia war Tsygankov’s theory suggests that when it perceives its sense of honor to be recognized, Russia cooperates with the Western nations; without such a recognition it pursues independent policies either defensively or assertively.”

Putin’s Russia: How It Rose, How It is Maintained, and How It Might End by Mikhail Dmitriev et al. (2015)

In this groundbreaking collection, nine of Russia’s leading scholars and experts describe and analyze some of the Vladimir Putin regime’s key structural strengths and weaknesses and look at their implications for both the present and the future. As far as the regime’s fault lines are concerned, the evidence presented by the authors shows no reversal, or even narrowing, of these structural dysfunctions in Putin’s third presidential term.

Topics covered here include Russia’s political economy, political geography, and politics of federalism; the regime, ideology, public opinion, and legitimacy; and potential defeat and radicalization of civil society. Emerging in these pages is a finely textured portrait of a society rife in complexities, contradictions, and postponed but looming crises.

The New Geopolitics of Natural Gas by Agnia Grigas (Apr 24 2017)

We are in the midst of an energy revolution, led by the United States. As the world’s greatest producer of natural gas moves aggressively to expand its exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), America stands poised to become an energy superpower–an unanticipated development with far-reaching implications for the international order. Agnia Grigas drills deep into today’s gas markets to uncover the forces and trends transforming the geopolitics of gas.

The boom in shale gas production in the United States, the growth of global LNG trade, and the buildup of gas transport infrastructure worldwide have so transformed the traditional markets that natural gas appears to be on the verge of becoming a true global commodity. Traditional suppliers like Russia, whose energy-poor neighbors were dependent upon its gas exports and pipelines, are feeling the foundations of the old order shifting beneath their feet. Grigas examines how this new reality is rewriting the conventional rules of intercontinental gas trade and realigning strategic relations among the United States, the European Union, Russia, China, and beyond.

In the near term, Moscow’s political influence will erode as the Russian gas giant Gazprom loses share in its traditional markets while its efforts to pivot eastward to meet China’s voracious energy needs will largely depend on Beijing’s terms. In this new geopolitics of gas, the United States will enjoy opportunities but also face challenges in leveraging its newfound energy clout to reshape relations with both European states and rising Asian powers.

The Patriots: A Novel by Sana Krasikov (Jan 24 2017)

A sweeping multigenerational debut novel about idealism, betrayal, and family secrets that takes us from Brooklyn in the 1930s to Soviet Russia to post-Cold War America

When the Great Depression hits, Florence Fein leaves Brooklyn College for what appears to be a plum job in Moscow—and the promise of love and independence. But once in Russia, she quickly becomes entangled in a country she can’t escape. Many years later, Florence’s son, Julian, will make the opposite journey, immigrating back to the United States. His work in the oil industry takes him on frequent visits to Moscow, and when he learns that Florence’s KGB file has been opened, he arranges a business trip to uncover the truth about his mother, and to convince his son, Lenny, who is trying to make his fortune in the new Russia, to return home. What he discovers is both chilling and heartbreaking: an untold story of what happened to a generation of Americans abandoned by their country.

The Patriots is a riveting evocation of the Cold War years, told with brilliant insight and extraordinary skill. Alternating between Florence’s and Julian’s perspectives, it is at once a mother-son story and a tale of two countries bound in a dialectic dance; a love story and a spy story; both a grand, old-fashioned epic and a contemporary novel of ideas. Through the history of one family moving back and forth between continents over three generations, The Patriots is a poignant tale of the power of love, the rewards and risks of friendship, and the secrets parents and children keep from one another.

Rival Power: Russia in Southeast Europe by Dimitar Bechev (Oct 3 2017)

A nuanced and comprehensive study of the political dynamics between Russia and key countries in Southeast Europe

Is Russia threatening to disrupt more than two decades’ of E.U. and U.S. efforts to promote stability in post-communist Southeast Europe? Politicians and commentators in the West say, “yes.” With rising global anxiety over Russia’s political policies and objectives, Dimitar Bechev provides the only in-depth look at this volatile region.

Deftly unpacking the nature and extent of Russian influence in the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey, Bechev argues that both sides are driven by pragmatism and opportunism rather than historical loyalties. Russia is seeking to assert its role in Europe’s security architecture, establish alternative routes for its gas exports—including the contested Southern Gas Corridor—and score points against the West. Yet, leaders in these areas are allowing Russia to reinsert itself to serve their own goals. This urgently needed guide analyzes the responses of regional NATO members, particularly regarding the annexation of Crimea and the Putin-Erdogan rift over Syria.

The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen (Oct 3 2017)

Putin’s bestselling biographer reveals how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible new strain of autocracy.

Hailed for her “fearless indictment of the most powerful man in Russia” by the Wall Street Journal, award-winning journalist Masha Gessen is unparalleled in her understanding of the events and forces that have wracked her native country in recent times. In The Future Is History, she follows the lives of four people born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. Each came of age with unprecedented expectations, some as the children and grandchildren of the very architects of the new Russia, each with newfound aspirations of their own — as entrepreneurs, activists, thinkers, and writers, sexual and social beings. Gessen charts their paths not only against the machinations of the regime that would crush them all, but also against the war it waged on understanding itself, ensuring the unobstructed reemergence of the old Soviet order in the form of today’s terrifying and seemingly unstoppable mafia state.
Powerful and urgent, The Future Is History is a cautionary tale for our time and for all time.

And Gessen’s churning out another book in 2018!

Never Remember: Searching for Stalin’s Gulags in Putin’s Russia (Feb 6 2018)

Russia under Vladimir Putin has been rewriting the Soviet past as glorious, which demands the elision of terror, from forgetting mass execution sites in Medvezhyegorsk in the Artctic to isolating uranium mines in Kolyma in the Far East, to repurposing the country’s only gulag museum, Perm 36, as a museum of secret-police valor.

Masha Gessen is a Russian and American journalist, author, translator and activist who has been an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. She is a prolific author, whose recent books include The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. She and photographer Michael Friedman journey to Siberia to document the erasure of Russia’s history and show the alarming transformation of Russia under authoritarian rule.

Kompromat by Stanley Johnson (Oct 10 2017)

Stanley Johnson’s new satirical thriller KOMPROMAT purports to tell what really happened in the run-up to those two recent political earthquakes, the Brexit Referendum in the UK in June 2016 and the US Presidential Election in November of that year.

What was the real reason, for example, Britain’s Prime Minister, Jeremy Hartley, included a commitment to hold an In or Out Referendum on Europe in the Conservative 2015 Election Manifesto? What was the true story behind Ronald C. Craig’s unexpected triumph in the US election?

Stanley Johnson’s sweeping satire follows the intertwined fortunes of the leader of Britain’s Leave campaign, former Cabinet member Edward Barnard and brash showman Presidential candidate Ronald Craig.

KOMPROMAT reveals how the devilishly cunning machinations of Russian President Igor Popov succeed in crucially influencing the electoral outcome on both sides of the Atlantic. Plot, counterplot and subplot are deftly woven into an “alternative” account of events which ends as Britain’s new Prime Minister, Mrs Mabel Killick, seeks her own mandate to deal with Brexit-related turbulence.

KOMPROMAT combines a rich vein of satirical humor with a spirit of adventure that leaves the reader wondering whether this “fake” narrative might not, just possibly, be true.

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Source: Pexels.
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2 comments

  1. Hm, what’s this?
    Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina

    A Pussy Rioter’s riveting, hallucinatory account of her years in Russia’s criminal system and of finding power in the most powerless of situations

    In February 2012, after smuggling an electric guitar into Moscow’s iconic central cathedral, Maria Alyokhina and other members of the radical collective Pussy Riot performed a provocative “Punk Prayer,” taking on the Orthodox church and its support for Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime.

    For this, they were charged with “organized hooliganism” and were tried while confined in a cage and guarded by Rottweilers. That trial and Alyokhina’s subsequent imprisonment became an international cause. For Alyokhina, her two-year sentence launched a bitter struggle against the Russian prison system and an iron-willed refusal to be deprived of her humanity. Teeming with protests and police, witnesses and cellmates, informers and interrogators, Riot Days gives voice to Alyokhina’s insistence on the right to say no, whether to a prison guard or to the president. Ultimately, this insistence delivers unprecedented victories for prisoners’ rights.

    Evocative, wry, laser-sharp, and laconically funny, Alyokhina’s account is studded with song lyrics, legal transcripts, and excerpts from her jail diary–dispatches from a young woman who has faced tyranny and returned with the proof that against all odds even one person can force its retreat.

    Like

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