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Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia [Hardcover]

Luke Harding
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
Price: 20.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 Sep 2011

In 2007 Luke Harding arrived in Moscow to take up a new job as a correspondent for the British newspaper the Guardian. Within months, mysterious agents from Russia's Federal Security Service - the successor to the KGB - had broken into his flat. He found himself tailed by men in cheap leather jackets, bugged, and even summoned to Lefortovo, the KGB's notorious prison.

The break-in was the beginning of an extraordinary psychological war against the journalist and his family. Vladimir Putin's spies used tactics developed by the KGB and perfected in the 1970s by the

Stasi, East Germany's sinister secret police. This clandestine campaign burst into the open in 2011 when the Kremlin expelled Harding from Moscow - the first western reporter to be deported from Russia since the days of the Cold War.

Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia is a brilliant and haunting account of the insidious methods used by a resurgent Kremlin against its so-called "enemies" -

human rights workers, western diplomats, journalists and opposition activists. It includes unpublished material from confidential US diplomatic cables, released last year by WikiLeaks, which describe Russia as a "virtual mafia state".

Harding gives a unique, personal and compelling portrait of today's Russia, two decades after the end of communism, that reads like a spy thriller.

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Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia + The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces Both Russia and the West
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Guardian Books (29 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 085265247X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0852652473
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A courageous and explosive exposé (Orlando Figes )

An entertaining and alarming account of Vladimir Putin's police state (Observer )

Book Description

A journalist expelled from Russia in February 2011 tells his story

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Propagandist disguised as a journalist 14 April 2014
It really isn't worth reading Luke Harding unless you share his prejudices and want your own confirmed. his latest articles for the Guardian on the Ukraine crisis have been the worst examples of thin propaganda with no respect for presenting facts as objectively as possible. There's nothing wrong with simply saying "I believe this..." but please stop pretending to be a journalist
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book 18 Mar 2012
This is by far the best English-language book on the nature of both the Russian state and Russian society during the disastrous period of Putin's (mis)rule. As it is very likely that Putin will remain in power for at least several more years, this volume is a 'must' read for those interested in and worried about the dire impact that the Russian mafiosi are having on their own country and, inevitably, on the rest of the world. Unlike most Westerners, Harding perceives the very essence of many of those in power in Moscow - their shady past, their criminal mentality, their selfish preoccupations, their professional incompetence and, perhaps most important and dangerous, their brilliant ability to lie and to deceive so many of their fellow-citizens as well as naive and poorly informed foreigners. It's astonishing that the author saw through this pretence (sometimes known as Potemkin villages) so quickly. Moreover, he writes stylishly and vividly. Essential reading. I'm so glad it's now available in paperback!
Martin Dewhirst, Honorary Research Fellow, University of Glasgow, Scotland
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Ross
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As I'm writing this, Russian backed forces are present in large parts of Ukraine and currently occupy Crimea with a referendum on independence being held later this week. Remarkably enough this book, written 18 months earlier, predicts this course of events precisely.

This is a chilling expose of a nation whose ruling elite have destroyed all boundaries between government, organised crime and business.

Harding describes both his own personal harassment at the hands of Russia's security agencies- with his flat being broken into and veiled threats being issued against his family- along with a wider exploration of Russia's descent into corruption.

In Harding's view the direction that Russia has taken comes down to Vladimir Putin putting the FSB- formally the KGB- at the heart of his regime. Most of Russia's senior officials have known links to the organisation and from that flows the regime's other problems. A secret police needs an external enemy to justify it's existence so relations with neighbours must inherently be confrontational and paranoid. Internal opponents are enemies to be jailed, killed or exiled. The FSB's crude thuggery is barely even hidden- as the very public murder of Alexander Litvinenko shows.

Not that Putin's Russia is exactly like the USSR. Whereas the Soviets were motivated by a utopian ideology, the new Russia is driven primarily by the need to remain in power so as not to disturb the looting of Russia's wealth by those linked to the Kremlin and FSB. Putin's own self enrichment seems to be a particularly sensitive subject for the regime which suggests that it is true.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zersetzung 9 Nov 2011
Luke Harding was the Guardian Moscow correspondent from 2004 until he was kicked out of Russia in 2011. His book is part collection of articles on contemporary Russia, part personal memoir of the events leading up to his final goodbye. I found the personal side of the book particularly powerful: break ins into his family home, bugging, and then termination of the accreditation, its reversal, deportation, reversal of that, and the effect all of this has on his family life, particularly his two young children. Some pretty important people must have been wasting a lot of time on his case. With the net-result of now finding their country accurately described as a "Mafia State" in this book.

In one of the last chapters entitled "The File" Harding describes how he suddenly realized what had happened to him: a dose of the soft terror perfected by the secret police in former Eastern Germany under the heading "Zersetzung" (dissolution). I had heard of "Zersetzung" as in "Wehrkraftzersetzung", the weakening of the will to fight in WWII, which was punishable by death. Harding discovers that under the last East German leader Erich Honecker Zersetzung became an academic discipline with the aim of discouraging the victim to such an extent that (s)he simply shuts up; for which there is another nice German word: "mundtot". He meets an ex-Professor of "operational psychology" (read Zersetzung), who still takes some pride in the methods he helped develop. This is amusing only with historical distance. But at least the man has regained enough moral clarity since the demise of his former bosses to realize that his behavior had been a mistake.

The East-German methods of Zersetzung were used throughout the former Warsaw Pact countries.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential read! 27 April 2012
Luke Harding's Mafia State is the most compelling book about today's Russia I have read. Harding writes with understated passion for the country he has come to love during his four years there as a Moscow Guardian correspondent. His account of break-ins into his family home, harassment, and deportation, all orchestrated by the FSB, should be an embarrassment to all involved into this, and similar cases in Russian self-proclaimed democracy.

What makes this book stand out is the personal element, and a touching honesty with which the author writes about his family and their Russian experience.
The book is well structured, and Harding's excellent journalistic skills make it an easy read even when he writes about complex political issues. I recommend this book to anyone who interested in trying to understand what political and social forces move within Russia today and how they affect the lives of its own citizens and those in the world at large.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars NATO-sponsored garbage
Luke Harding is a sad little NATO stooge - who overstayed his visa in Moscow, and was deported.

This book reads like a kind of Cold War Walter Mitty. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Neil Mcgowan
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifyingly eye-opening.
I didn't know much about Vladimir Putin before reading this book, as much as most people really -he has a strange dislike for gay rights and likes to invade Crimea - but having... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Luke Hoare Greene
4.0 out of 5 stars Harding`s Mafia State
Very interesting account of the Kremlin`s attitude to journalists, especially those from Russia. Explanation of Georgian conflict helps us understand Kremlin attitude towards... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Ciaran Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting read
I FOUND it hard to put this book down, and reading much of it while on holiday in Russia made it even more powerful. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Craig Campbell
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
First of all I want to say that I know little about modern day Russia and her politics, as my interest has always been more historical. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rebecca
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate as well as amazing
This is a book that really describes the "New Russia" with Putin as the man in power. It is filled with dramatic descriptions of some of the events which explain how the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nina Yakimiuk
4.0 out of 5 stars A good summary of how it really is.
Luke Harding shows a great deal of intestinal fortitude, both in the way he dealt with the Russian state's intimidation at the time and by writing this detailed summary of its... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Law Doc
5.0 out of 5 stars Blimey!
What an in depth insight into the world of the Russian secrete service. Very intriguing and griping with lots of warning.
Published 9 months ago by Master Pete
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant review of today's hopeless Russia
Absolutely brilliant. Very brave and accurate, captivating. A must read for all who toy with an idea of dealing with today's Russia.
Published 10 months ago by fedz
4.0 out of 5 stars From Russia With Love
I had my eye on this book since it came out and I was not disappointed. Essential reading for anybody interested in Russian history as this book explores many of the trends since... Read more
Published 11 months ago by AG
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