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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2008
I really enjoyed this book. A fascinating insight into the challenges facing Europe and the United States in their relationship with Russia. Provides a lot of detail on Russia today. Well worth reading.
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on 31 July 2015
That Putin is some guy, he's having loads of fun with the West.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2014
I've only seen the first edition of this book, but presumably the content and thrust of the new edition remains much the same. The author makes well backed up points against Russia, which he very correctly identifies as predatory and hostile to the West and only superficially capitalist-democratic. He reveals that punitive psychiatry, hard labour sentences and many other totalitarian artefacts of the Soviet era still exist today in a country that tells the world, "We are Russia. We do what we like".

However, the author writes in the context of the West's comparative rectitude, omitting the USA's strategic encirclement of Russia, Anglo American geopolitical aims in Eurasia, the provocation that is NATO's missile shield, the farce of western political pluralism (the bogus left-right paradigm), the immorality of the disgusting treatment meted out to ethnic Russians in Estonia (which he half justifies), etc. In sum, in laudably excoriating a corrupt and tyrannical Russia he lamentably exonerates a slightly less corrupt and slightly less tyrannical (but worsening) West. It renders his book less of an objective critique of Putin's regime and more of a British propaganda piece which, considering the magnitude of the threat posed by Russia and exposed in the book, is a tremendous pity.

The most niggling part though is that he ignores the prescient predictions in the 1980s of KGB defector Anatoly Golitsyn as to the true nature of the USSR's collapse. Indeed, any modern treatment of Russia that ignores Golitsyn is instantly disadvantaged, being deprived of profound insights into the Soviet strategy behind the collapse of the USSR (i.e. they planned it for decades and staged it so as to recover economically and then take down the West). In branding various concepts "absurd" or "preposterous" Lucas seems oblivious to other absurdities: that the politburo could en masse undergo a collective epiphany regarding their ideology; that Putin's Russia is aggressive in tone towards the West purely as a means to justify restrictions on liberty at home rather than what I posit it truly is: a campaign to build Antagonism against the West in the run-up to WW3; that Russia's menace is limited to economic and other forms of "soft power" projection and that is has no intention of engaging NATO militarily; that Putin, as a KGB "elite within an elite" could never have attained his position without first being proven a committed ideologue (as opposed to just the unprincipled opportunist Lucas portrays him to be). Hence I conclude the author - whether intended or not - has by ignoring Golitsyn, drafted a limited hangout obscuring the full malevolent intent of Russia.

As a remedy, the author needs to write for a more switched on audience and stop assuming the ordinary people believe all the West-is-Best propaganda spun by Whitehall, Brussels and Washington. Hence he should tone down the point-scoring against Russia by comparing its manifold flaws with ostensibly perfect or much more tolerable Western counterparts; it fools nobody really and actually alienates and antagonises the growing pool of informed laymen who, appalled at the European Union debacle and Anglo American hegemony around the globe, are casting admiring glances at Putin and taking Russia's side. Make no mistake; Russia is winning the propaganda war at home and abroad. But it's not really a question of propaganda; people need to know solid facts, the real dangers posed to world peace, not just from the Bear Redivivus, but from our own Western elites and yes, the Chinese too. Ultimately, everything about Putin's Russia has to be weighed in the context of the struggle for global supremacy between the major powers, each one of whom acts deplorably in pursuit of its geostrategic aims. That's the context the author should keep in mind when writing about Russia.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 October 2014
Brilliant book on Russia. Would highly recommend it. Is well argued and fluently written.
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on 2 May 2015
delivered as advertised
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on 7 April 2015
A hard-work read!
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on 7 September 2014
Excellent read
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14 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2010
When I picked up this book I could guess what I was getting into, but I was curious to read an extreme viewpoint to know what sort of views are out there. I got that in loadfuls. The book is filled with histeria, it is written almost with a sense of vindictiveness, which surprised me. Later I spoke with someone who knew Mr. Lucas during his posting in Moscow. Turns out that he absolutely loathed his time there. It appears that now he is out to get it back.

Books like this are simply not helpful. When one tries to paint everything black, the blackest spots go unnoticed, while an itelligent reader loses the belief (or should, at least) that this is a real place being described, rather than some fairy tale land gone foul.

I found Mr. Lucas's discussion about Moldova amusing, and it is very indicative of the way he judges things. In his words: "The real reason that the West is losing in Moldova is not military, but the country's ... corrupt and inexpert government. Almost nobody in the current Moldovan government, for example, speaks English." This tells you the kind of criteria the author applies for his approval.

The biggest problem with this book is that Lucas is a powerful writer. The style is punchy, and it does not leave much space to doubt the facts he presents. You just accept that they are correct. But then you stumble over something which you know is inaccurate, and start wondering how many other things in the book are simply made up. The easiest example is his description of the Georgian war. He writes his interpretation of events with full conviction (Russians were sitting just across the line waiting for the Georgians to go in, and after all it was not the Georgians who made the move). We now know that this is incorrect, but Mr. Lucas makes no allowance that he could be wrong. He is right, throughout the book, and that's it.

The only chapter really worth reading is the third, "The Kremlin's Use of State Power Against Dissent." This is where you can glean the true manifestations of the horrors of the current Russian system -- the harassment of dissidents, the dangers of the journalist profession, etc. It's a shame that this gets lost (one of those blackest spots I mentioned) in the jumble of the rest of the book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2014
The facts in this book seem to confirm my opinion of life in Russia both past and present.
I now realise how lucky we are in the UK.
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2012
Being a Russian myself, I am struggling between the [obvious] scary truths about modern Russia that the author lays out in the book and the sensationalist and often contradicting nature of these truths (e.g.: I particularly recommend you to contact a few different sources with regards to the Georgian president Saakashvilli and the war in Osetia - I was THERE at the time)... I am not an advocate of the current Russian regime, quite the opoposite in fact, but I urge you to take Mr. Lucas's claims with a pinch of salt and do your own research into the facts that are mentioned in the book before deciding that East-West is indeed getting locked in a "Cold War" yet again. It is definitely worth being mindful of the Putin's regime, especially with regards to the energy "wars", but I question factual accuracy of this publication.
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