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Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot
 
 

Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot [Kindle Edition]

Masha Gessen
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Review

'Brought forward due to the amnesty and release, this is the story of the feminist post-punk collective told by the author of a much-admired book on Putin.' --'Books of 2014', Guardian

'Words Will Break Cement is valuable for its insights into the modern cultural history of Russia, with all its idealistic muddles, dead-ends and false starts. Gessen's sharp pen draws a caustic picture of Pussy Riot's trial while prison correspondence provides a vivid picture of the continuing awfulness of the Russian penal system. Her book is ideal for those curious about the country behind the games' --Economist

'Much here will be new to the reader. All of it is infuriating' --New York Times

'Words Will Break Cement is written in a dry, raised-eyebrow deadpan, which allows post-Soviet repression to indict itself and adeptly captures the bluster and headiness of activist idealism... Pussy Riot's story is a moving object lesson in the power of art to rise above repression and have the last, cement-breaking word' --LA Times

'Much here will be new to the reader. All of it is infuriating' --New York Times

'Gessen's book is vividly told. Overall this is an angry book, which makes it shockingly clear what an injustice was done in a ludicrous trial - and what the treatment of these women says about the system in Putin's Russia' --Sunday Herald

'Gessen's clinical and thorough depiction of Pussy Riot is as personal as it is political; thanks to the rather remarkable access she is afforded to the individuals, their families and allies' --Irish Times

'Immensely readable... It brilliantly traces the evolution of Pussy Riot' ***** --Mail on Sunday

'Gessen makes a forceful case for Pussy Riot. With extensive access to the friends, relatives and prison correspondence of the jailed activists, she delves deep into their lives. As a Russian-American steeped in the same ideas that inspired Pussy Riot, Gessen is a useful guide' --New Statesman

'Enlightening and poignant... Words Will Break Cement serves as a powerful indictment of the return to Soviet-era tactics to silence dissent' --Tablet

'Gessen makes a forceful case for Pussy Riot. With extensive access to the friends, relatives and prison correspondence of the jailed activists, she delves deep into their lives. As a Russian-American steeped in the same ideas that inspired Pussy Riot, Gessen is a useful guide' --New Statesman

Product Description

On February 21st 2012, five members of an obscure feminist post-punk collective called Pussy Riot staged a performance in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Dressed in their trademark brightly coloured dresses and balaclavas, the women performed their song 'Punk Prayer - Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!' in front of the altar. The performance lasted only 40 seconds but it resulted in two-year prison sentences for three of the performers - and has turned Pussy Riot into one of the most well-known and important protest movements of the last five years.This necessary and timely book is an account of the Pussy Riot protest, the ensuing global support movement, and the tangled and controversial trial of the band members. It explores the status of dissent in Russia, the roots of the group and their adoption - or appropriation - by wider collectives, feminist groups and music icons. Masha Gessen has unique access to the band and those closest to them. Her unrivalled understanding of the Russian protest movement makes her the ideal writer to document and explain the rage, the beauty and the phenomenon that is Pussy Riot.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 811 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books (9 Jan 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GPDN59O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #226,212 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 8 Feb 2014
By Charles TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist punk rock protest group based in Moscow, they are most famous for staging a song protest in a Russian church criticising current president Vladimir Putin. The protest in the church resulted in some of their members getting arrested and put in jail, causing a massive controversy in the world press.

This book goes from their early days of art protests, to the forming of the band, to the church protest and their imprisonment.

In the early days before forming the band they were involved with various comedy protests, memorable ones include drawing a giant phallus on a drawbridge outside the FSB's (the modern KGB) St. Petersburg headquarters, when the drawbridge was raised the phallus now seemed erect, the work was called "F*** the FSB", (google "fsb drawbridge" for video). Another involved finding traffic police who were stopping cars to extract bribes from the drivers, the protesters would come running up and pretend to be the policeman's wife and tell him to get even more money!

Their distinctive balaclavas were used to hide their identities but they chose brightly colored ones to be the opposite of the black balaclavas used by the Russian special forces. They performed their protest songs in places where it would be illegal like the roof of a bus or on the Metro. Their (badly sung) songs about feminist punk subjects like the tyranny of housework and the right ways to subjugate men.

When the Russian Orthodox Church backed increasing unpopular president Putin, Pussy Riot decided that their next action should take place in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a very important church where Putin came for holiday services.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Pete
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Okay so Pussy Riot were put onto the media scene with mixed intent (I believe) some would read this as their story; BUT read deeper into it than that and see Putin's corrupt world at it's worst. This is only a brief insight into what is going on today in Russia under his tiranical rule. He's a danger to the whole of civilisation in my view!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 20 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Worth reading.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent account of pussy riot 7 Feb 2014
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Excellent account of the individuals involved in Pussy Riot and of the operation of the "justice" system in Russia today
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. 19 Jan 2014
By Lára Heimisdóttir - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"If they wanted to show something radical, feminist, independent, street-based, and Russian, they would have to make it up."

Since I first read about Pussy Riot in Western media I've been hooked. Their actions were both understandable but somehow foreign in the eyes of someone who has never been deprived of basic human rights. Once I opened the book I could not put it down.
Gessen is the perfect interpreter of Russian culture, in her graceful writing style she combines the story of Pussy Riot with Russian history, literature, culture and language. She explains the context of their actions and puts their staged trial into perspective for the Western reader.

The three members of Pussy Riot, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina, which were prosecuted for the minute-long punk prayer are the focus of the book. I felt as I got to know the women behind the masks, but more importantly, I got a better understanding of why they felt obligated to protest in the way they did. We follow the three women from their first performance to a Russian penal colony. Their journey is described by Gessen with the help of the women's speeches in court, interviews with their families, letters they sent from prison and interviews with themselves.

If you have ever been curious about the actions of Pussy Riot, showed an interested in Russian history and culture, if you are in favor of human rights and if you call yourself a feminist: this book is for you.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes life doesn't turn out the way you expect. 4 Feb 2014
By Wade Sikorski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved this book! I gained a great deal of respect for the women of Pussy Riot, their creativity, their humor, and especially their courage. Gessen does a wonderful job of describing their different personalities, including not only their virtues, but also their faults and failings, as well as the various quirks of mind that makes each of them unique individuals. By the end of the book you will love each of them like a friend, and you will be horrified at what they went through trying to make the world a better place.

Gessen raises an interesting question in the book. What is it that makes a political action work? What is it that grabs people's attention? Pussy Riot had launched a number of actions, almost all of them, they felt, better executed than the "Punk Rock Prayer" to the Virgin Mary in the cathedral that made them so famous. They went into hiding afterwards, but as they did they wondered if it was even necessary. In all likelihood, they suspected, no one was going to pay them any attention. The action felt like a dud. But sometimes life doesn't turn out the way you expect. Soon Putin himself would be on trial in the world press, trying to explain that he wasn't really the overbearing dictatorial jerk that about everyone concluded he was for what he did to Pussy Riot. If you are interested in political activism, this book will help you figure out what works and what doesn't.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best background work on the origin and roots of Pussy Riot 31 Jan 2014
By Beck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Overall, a fine work that characterizes the underpinning of Pussy Riot. Really, it also helps define the terms for us in the West the nature of today's Russia under Putin.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outspoken Author Writing about Courageous Women 21 Feb 2014
By Leslie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an incredibly important book in revealing the lack of justice in the Russian court system that is so foreign to an American reader. Indeed the court system exists as an arm of the government attached to the leader. It seemed that Masha Gessen, a wonderful Russian author, journalist, and activist was pressed by time to get the story out as fast as possible, and there's no doubt she overcame many obstacles to write it. The author did the impossible - or at least the very difficult- she corresponded with the women of Pussy Riot despite the censorship, gained the trust of their families to interview them, visited the women at the prisons, and attended court hearings and gained access to the records. While the story doesn't have the usual flow of Gessen's writing, the story is gripping and timely. It also explains the logic of Pussy Riot's actions, especially protesting the close ties between the government and the Orthodox Church.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for Russian current events 13 Mar 2014
By Karen Gold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A fascinating look behind the scenes. Gives a great background on the members of Pussy Riot and how they started their protests. Also shows how repressive the Russian government is under Putin. The scenes from the trial are reminiscent of the Soviet show trials.
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