Putin’s Rise to Power and the Creation of a KGB-Run State

Putin's People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West, by Catherine Belton You in the West, you think you’re playing chess with us. But you’re never going to win, because we’re not following any rules. Vladimir Putin seemingly came out of the shadows to run Russia and he's managed to... Continue Reading →

Women Who Survived the Gulag, in Their Own Words

Book review: Dressed for a Dance in the Snow, by Monika Zgustova (Amazon / Book Depository) I am not that woman. It must be someone else who is suffering. I could never withstand it. Monika Zgustova, a Czech author based in Spain, gives voices to female former Gulag prisoners (and in one case, a woman... Continue Reading →

Two New Histories of Rivalries and Revisionism, From Cold War Berlin and Lenin’s Soviet Union

The Zookeepers' War: An Incredible True Story from the Cold War, by J.W. Mohnhaupt, translated from German by Shelley Frisch (Amazon / Book Depository) published November 12, 2019  The English translation of J.W. Mohnhaupt's German bestseller The Zookeepers' War opens with scenes from (West) Berlin's Zoological Garden as the Second World War reached Berlin's doorstep. It follows... Continue Reading →

Oral Histories from “The Last of the Soviets” #WITMonth

Book review: Secondhand Time, by Svetlana Alexievich (Amazon / Book Depository) In writing, I’m piecing together the history of “domestic,” “interior” socialism. As it existed in a person’s soul. I’ve always been drawn to this miniature expanse: one person, the individual. It’s where everything really happens. 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich's Secondhand Time is... Continue Reading →

Disaster and After: A Chernobyl Deep Dive

Book review: Midnight in Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham (Amazon / Book Depository) Senior Lieutenant Alexander Logachev loved radiation the way other men loved their wives. So begins Adam Higginbotham's exhaustive account of the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster, recounting a blow-by-blow of the unfolding incident and the monumental effects of the aftermath, amidst the context of... Continue Reading →

Banality Of Evil In An American Tragedy

Book review: The Brothers, by Masha Gessen (Amazon / Book Depository) This American Life is one of my all-time favorite radio shows. But since they're so prolific and have been around for so long, I'm always eons behind on episodes, so I tend to skip through the archives looking for something interesting. That's how I landed on a 2014... Continue Reading →

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