(Ignore the asterisks – I’m flagging reviews for revision)
























  1. Wow!!! I’m really looking forward to some of these upcoming reviews, J.T. 🙂 Especially those Russian language books at the end there! Do you prefer to read in English or Russian?
    – Katherine

    PS: Found you through Fluent Historian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Katherine and welcome to the blog! As of right now, I prefer to read in English if only because I’m a native English speaker and my Russian-reading skills are very much a work in progress. I’m still grappling with the very heavy Russian vocabulary that appears in some of the books like Primakov’s Россия: надежды и тревоги. But it seems that I’m improving with every Russian-language book I read. Recently, I finished Igor Sakhnovskii’s Человек, который знал все and Andrei Rubanov’s Хлорофилия. Eventually, the upcoming Russian-language books won’t seem so difficult.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry, such a черепаха here in responding!

        Same as you- definitely English 🙂 My husband is always trying to convince me to read more in Russian since he feels reading is what helped him conquer English. It seems like every Russian book I’ve picked up I’ve abandoned after only a few pages, though (see: двенадцать стульев). A few weeks ago I started reading a kid’s book (доктор Айболит). Maybe it’s a silly read but it’s much more manageable than everything else I’ve tried.

        Would you ever consider making a post about how you read such long books in Russian? Do you highlight and mark up the pages? Do you set a daily “pages read” goals? How often do you stop to look up a word? Do you ever read out loud? It would be fascinating to hear how you do things!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, I think I need some feedback: should I review Karen Dawisha’s ‘Putin’s Kleptocracy’ and/or ‘Kicking the Kremlin’ by Marc Bennetts? I’ve had people aware of my blog suggest these books to me, but (a) they both appear to be very low-grade and (b) I feel that there will be enough negative reviews on this blog and would rather devote more time to reading good Russia books if I can help it. Is there anything in either of these books that would make them worth reviewing? True, they deal with corruption and opposition,respectively – two topics that are underrepresented in the upcoming review list – but is there anything else?


    • The first book looks more interesting to me, but that’s because I don’t know much about his rise to power and would be massively grateful to you for doing the hard work of actually reading the whole thing and reviewing it. We went to a local lecture here last week about him ( and it piqued my interest in Putin of the 1990s. But it’s probably better to go with whatever seems most interesting to you… or neither, if you’re not very excited about them at the moment. You have done a great job of creating this blog and you know better than anyone else about what kind of books motivate you to read/post. I’ll happily read your reviews of any of the above books!


      • Thanks for the feedback! If you’re interested in 1990s Putin, one of my upcoming review books (which I happen to have already read), “Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft” by Allen C. Lynch, spends a substantial number of pages on Putin in the 1990s, which it nicknames “The Formative Years”. I highly recommend the book, and consider “V.P. and Russian Statecraft” to be the Gold Standard of Putin biographies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hmm…I just found a post on Natylie Baldwin’s blog about Putin’s Kleptocracy ( It seems she was facing the same question I am now, and was able to research the author and the history of the book. Putin’s Kleptocracy appears to be a rehash of innuendo and claims that have already been published. And did you know that Dawisha’s book was ultimately dropped by its original British publisher due to concerns over libel laws? Considering that Britain is not a fan of the Putin government, one can’t help but question the credibility of both book and author. I think I’ll pass over this one.


    • This was actually on my to-reads list, but I removed it due to accessibility issues. I might still decide to locate a copy because I really haven’t seen many books focusing exclusively on analysis of Putin’s system. But seeing that van Herpen has essentially spent 2-3 books trying to convince his readers that Putin is the next Adolf Hitler, I have other reservations for reading this.


  3. The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin by David Satter


    • I’ll investigate. But seriously, what is it with you and Putinism? It seems like the only thing you ever comment on in my posts is how terrible Russia is under Putin.


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