Top critical review
14 people found this helpful
Informative and insightful - but "Russia is one of history's greatest failures"? Come on.
on 18 April 2014
I enjoyed reading this book. It masterfully combines everyday personal stories with macro-scale political, social and economic events.
The final chapters of the book, where the author takes the Trans-siberian express to the Russian Far-east, are the absolute highlight - full of fascinating, revealing and insightful personal accounts and analyses.
Having said the above, the book can be a bit annoying at times: the author describes Russia as a place where *everything* is wrong. People are either corrupted crooks or a bunch of blabbering idiots. Nothing works. Putin is an incapable idiot. No silver lining whatsoever.
The above nihilism reaches its peak at the final section of the book, where the author calls Russia "one of histories greatest failures" - a country that sent men to the moon and gave birth to some of the greatest scientists and artists. Sorry Ben, that's pure BS.
Therefore, if you are a person who lives in Russia and is fed up of hearing from state TV how great Putin is, then this book offers a good counter-balance. But for non-Russians like me, it can be frustrating at times.
There are still some great stories in this book though!