The Return Of The Russian Leviathan by Sergei Medvedev

The Blurb On The Back:

Russia’s relationship with its neighbours and with the West has worsened dramatically in recent years.  Under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, the country has annexed Crimea, begun a way in Eastern Ukraine, used chemical weapons on the streets of the UK and created an army of internet trolls to meddle in the US presidential elections.  How should we understand this apparent relapse into aggressive imperialism and militarism?

In this book, Sergei Medvedev argues that this new wave of Russian nationalism is the result of mentalities that have long been embedded within the Russian psyche.  Whereas in the West, the turbulent social changes of the 1960s and a rising awareness of the legacy of colonialism have modernised attitudes, Russia has been stymied by an enduring sense of superiority over its neighbours alongside a painful nostalgia for empire.  It is this infantilised and irrational world view that Putin and others have exploited, as seen most clearly in Russia’s recent foreign policy decisions, including the annexation of Crimea.

This sharp and insightful book, full of irony and humour, shows how the archaic forces of imperial revanchist have been brought back to life, shaking Russian society and threatening the outside world.  It will be of great interest to anyone trying to understand the forces shaping Russian politics and society today.

You can order THE RETURN OF THE RUSSIAN LEVIATHAN by Sergei Medvedev from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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What Is At Stake Now: My Appeal For Peace And Freedom by Mikhail Gorbachev

The Blurb On The Back:

Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, world peace is at risk again.  The President of the United States has withdrawn from the disarmament treaty with Russia, Europe is disintegrating, China is surging forward and a wave of nationalism and populism is destabilising established political institutions and endangering hard-won liberties.  Moreover, the coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp relief the fragility of the global order and the speed with which it can slide into chaos.

In view of this dangerous and unpredictable state of affairs, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last great statesman of the 1989 revolution, has written this short book to warn us of the grave risks we now face and to urge us all, political leaders and citizens alike, to take action to address them.  He focuses on the big challenges of our time, such as the renewal of the arms race and the growing risks of nuclear war, the new tension between Russia and the West, the global environmental crisis, the global threat of diseases and epidemics, the rise of populism and the decline of democracy.  He argues that self-serving policies and narrow-minded politics aimed at the pursuit of national interests are taking the place of political principles and overshadowing the vision of a free and just world for all peoples.  He offers his view of where Russia is heading and he urges political leaders in the West to recognise that re-establishing trust between Russia and the West requires the courage of true leadership and a commitment to genuine dialogue and understanding on both sides.

Now more than ever, the responses to the great challenges we face cannot be purely national in character but must be based on a collaborative effort in which political leaders put aside their differences and work together to advance the human security for all.  

You can buy WHAT IS AT STAKE NOW by Mikhail Gorbachev from Amazon USA, Amazon UKWaterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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The Unwomanly Face Of War by Svetlana Alexievich

The Blurb On The Back:

Bringing together dozens of voices in her distinctive style, The Unwomanly Face Of War is Svetlana Alexievich’s collection of stories from Soviet women who lived through the Second World War: on the front lines, on the home front, and in occupied territories.  As Alexievich gives voice to women who are absent from official narratives – captains, sergeants, nurses, snipers, pilots – she shows us a new version of the war we’re so familiar with, creating an extraordinary alternative history from their private stories.

Published in 1985 in Russia and now available in English for the first time, The Unwomanly Face Of War was Alexievich’s first book and a huge bestseller in the Soviet Union, establishing her as a brilliantly revolutionary writer.  

You can order THE UNWOMANLY FACE OF WAR by Svetlana Alexievich from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

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