Click here for the 2020 To Be Read list.

Alphabetical by author; CTRL + F to search.

Asterisk = flagged for revision

Gray text = outdated reviews, not worth reading

Akishin, Askold. Pionerskaya pravda. (untranslated.) Fabrika Komiksov, 2015.

Alexander, Robert. The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar. Penguin Books, 2004.

Baba, Yasushi. Golosseum 1. Translated from the Japanese by Blake Ferris. Kodansha Comics, 2018.

Bacon, Edwin. Inside Russian Politics. Biteback Publishing, 2018.

*Barnes, Julian. The Noise of Time. Jonathan Cape, 2016.

Bashkirova, Dorofeev, and Soloviev. Heroes of the 90s: A New History of Capitalism in Russia. Glagoslav Publications, 2014.

Bell, Ted. Overkill. William Morrow, 2018.

Bell, Ted. Patriot. William Morrow, 2015.

*Berdy, Michelle. The Russian Word’s Worth. GLAS New Russian Writing, 2010.

*Berry, Steve. The Romanov Prophecy. Ballantine Books, 2004.

*Bilal and Christin. The Hunting Party. Humanoids Publishing, 2002.

Bullen, Mark. Thief in Law: A Guide to Russian Prison Tattoos and Russian-Speaking Organized Crime Groups. One’s Own Publishing House, 2016.

Chizhova, Elena. Vremya zhenshchin. AST, 2015.

*Ciotta, Jennifer. I, Putin. Pencey X Publishing, 2012.

Colton, Timothy. Russia: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press USA, 2016.

Dickey, Lisa. Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia. St. Martin’s Press, 2017.

Duval, Fred and Pecau, Jean-Pierre. What If: Russians on the Moon! 2016.

*Edel, Anastasia. Russia: Putin’s Playground. Lightning Guides, 2016.

Edmonson, Nathan and Noto, Phil. Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread. Marvel, 2014.

*Eremeeva, Jennifer. Have Personality Disorder, Will Rule Russia: An Iconoclastic History by a Recovering Russophile. 2015.

Eremeeva, Jennifer. Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow. Small Batch Books, 2014.

Feifer, Gregory. Russians: The People Behind the Power. (J.T. doesn’t care enough about this book to include publisher information.)

Gessen, Masha. Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. (J.T. doesn’t care enough about this book to include publisher information.)

Glukhovsky, Dmitry. Metro 2033. Translated from the Russian by Natasha Randall. Gollancz, 2009.

Grecian, Alex and Rossmo, Riley. Rasputin, Vol. 1: The Road to the Winter Palace. Image Comics, 2015.

*Greene, David. Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia. W. W. Norton & Company.

Haslam, Jonathan. Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015.

*Hellevig, John. Putin’s New Russia. Kontinent USA, 2012.

*Herspring, Dale. Putin’s Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain, 3rd edition.

Hirshberg, Glen. Freedom is Space for the Spirit., 2016.

Jack, Andrew. Inside Putin’s Russia: Can There be Reform Without Democracy?. Oxford University Press, 2005.

Johnston, Antony. Codename Baboushka: The Conclave of Death. Image, 2016.

Judah, Ben. Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell in and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin. Yale University Press, 2013.

*Kashin, Oleg. Fardwor, Russia! A Fantastical Tale of Life Under Putin. Translated from the Russian by Will Evans. Restless Books, 2016.

Kasparov, Garry. Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped.

Khodorkovsky, Mikhail. My Fellow Prisoners. Penguin Books Ltd., 2014.

Kohonen, Iina. Picturing the Cosmos: A Visual History of Early Soviet Space Endeavor. Translated from the Finnish by Albion Butters and Tiina Hyytiäinen. Intellect Ltd., 2017.

Laqueur, Walter. Putinism: Russia and its Future with the West. Thomas Dunne Books, 2015.

Layton, Jeffrey. The Good Spy. Pinnacle, 2016.

Liu, Marjorie and Acuna, Daniel. Black Widow: The Name of the Rose. Marvel, 2011.

*Lomasko, Victoria. Other Russias. Translated from the Russian by Thomas Campbell. Penguin, 2017.

*Lourie, Richard. Putin: His Downfall and Russia’s Coming Crash. Thomas Dunne Books, 2017.

Malaparte, Curzio. The Kremlin Ball: Material for a Novel. Translated from the Italian by Jenny McPhee. NYRB Classics, 2018.

Maslov, Nikolai. Siberia. Translated from the French by Blake Ferris. Soft Skull Press, 2006.

Matthews, Jason. Red Sparrow. Pocket Books, 2014.

McAuley, Mary. Human Rights in Russia: Citizens and the State from Perestroika to Putin. I.B. Tauris & Company, 2015.

McComsey, Jeff. Mother Russia. Alterna Press, 2015.

Mel’nik, Kseniya. Snow in May: Stories. Henry Holt & Co., 2014.

Miller, A.D. Snowdrops. Atlantic Books, 2011.

Monaghan, John and Just, Peter. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Neverdahl, Ida and Runde, Øystein. Moscow. Translated from the Norwegian by Agnes S.D. Langeland. Centrala, 2015.

Ochsner, Gina. The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight. Houghton Miffin Harcourt, 2010.

*Parker, Jeff. Where Bears Roam the Streets. HarperCollins, 2014.

Parker and Iossel. Rasskazy. Tin House Books, 2009.

Pelevin, Victor. The Hall of Singing Caryatids. Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield. New Directions, 2011.

*Pelevin, Victor. The Life of Insects. Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1998.

*Pelevin, Victor. Omon Ra. Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield. New Directions, 1998.

*Pelevin, Victor. A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia. Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield. New Directions, 2010.

Pelevin, Victor. The Yellow Arrow. Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield. New Directions, 2009.

*Politkovskaya, Anna. A Russian Diary: A Journalist’s Final Account of Life, Corruption, and Death in Putin’s Russia. Translated from the Russian by Arch Tait. Random House, 2007.

*Pomerantsev, Peter. Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia. PublicAffairs, 2014.

Prilepin, Zakhar. Sankya. Translated from the Russian by Mariya Gusev and Jeff Parker. DISQUIET, 2014.

Prilepin, Zakhar. Sin. Translated from the Russian by Simon Patterson. Glagoslav Publications, 2012.

Putin, Vladimir. First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia’s President. Translated from the Russian by Catherine Fitzpatrick. PublicAffairs, 2000.

The Red Star Volume 1: The Battle of Kar Dathra’s Gate. Archangel Studios, 2001.

Richards, Susan. Lost and Found in Russia: Lives in the Post-Soviet Landscape. Other Press, 2010.

Rogozin, Dmitry. The Hawks of Peace: Notes of the Russian Ambassador. Translated from the Russian by Nadezhda Serebryakova and Camilla Stein. Glagoslav Publications, 2013.

Rubanov, Andrei. Chlorophyllia. (untranslated.) AST, 2009.

Senchin, Roman. Tuva. (untranslated.) Ad Marginem, 2012.

Sergi, Bruno. Misinterpeting Modern Russia. Bloomsbury Academic, 2009.

Shevtsova, Lilia. Lonely Power. Translated from the Russian by Antonina W. Bouis. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2010.

Shishkin, Mikhail. The Calligraphy Lesson: The Collected Stories. Translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz, Leo Shtutin, Maria Bashkatova, and Sylvia Maizell. Deep Vellum Publishing, 2015.

Sixsmith, Martin. Russia: A 1000-year Chronicle of the Wild East. The Overlook Press, 2013.

Smith, Martin Cruz. Gorky Park. Pan Books, 2007.

Smith, Tom Rob. Child 44. Grand Central Publishing, 2009.

Smith, Tom Rob. The Secret Speech. Grand Central Publishing, 2009.

Soloviev, Vladimir. Empire of Corruption: The Russian National Pastime. Translated from the Russian by Matthew Hyde. Glagoslav Publications, 2014.

Sorokin, Vladimir. Day of the Oprichnik: A Novel. Translated from the Russian by Jamey Gambrell. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011.

Spufford, Francis. Red Plenty: Inside the Fifties’ Soviet Dream. Faber & Faber, 2010.

Stephenson, Svetlana. Gangs of Russia: From the Streets to the Corridors of Power. Cornell University Press, 2015.

Terletsky, Vitaly et al. Gorelovo. Komil’fo, 2015.

*Through the Looking GLAS: A Composite Review of GLAS Series Entries.

Tishchenkov, Oleg. Kot. Izdatel’stvo studii Lebedeva, 2008.

Tolstaya, Tatiana. The Slynx. Translated from the Russian by Jamey Gambrell. Houghton Miffin Harcourt, 2003.

*Trenin, Dmitry. Post-Imperium. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2011.

*Ulitskaya, Lyudmila. The Big Green Tent. Translated from the Russian by Bela Shayevich. Farrar, Straus and Girroux, 2015.

de Villiers, Gerard. Revenge of the Kremlin. Translated from the French by William Rodarmor. Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, 2015.

War of the Beasts and the Animals: Russian and Ukrainian Poetry in Translation. Modern Poetry in Translation, 2017.

Wheeler, Thom. One Steppe Beyond. Summersdale, 2012.

White, Stephen. Understanding Russian Politics. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Wilke, Daria. Playing a Part. Translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015.

*Zaionchkovsky, Oleg. Happiness is Possible. Translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield. And Other Stories, 2012.

30 thoughts on “Reviews

  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

    1. 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

      1. 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

        1. That’s actually a pretty good idea! Glad you thought of it. For me it’s a chapter-by-chapter process involving a little notebook, multicolored pens, a Russian-English dictionary and (yes) my voice. So basically all of the above!
          By the way, I followed the link to the game Ba Ba Dum on your site today. I’ve been playing for hours and have accumulated 1,500+ words. Save me from myself. :/

          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?


    1. 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!


      1. 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

      2. 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.


    1. 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


    1. 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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