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Brilliant synopsis of what happend and why it all went wrong,
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This review is from: The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia (Hardcover)Hoffman as the Moscow based chief for a US newpaper and Russian speaker was ideally placed as the events covered by this book occurred. Starting from the Fall of communism and the rise of a new business power elite the like of which Russia had never seen since 1917 through Yeltsin's faltering reign due to his health, to the change to Putin is over the 500 odd pages covered with a masterful handling of an incredible range of material and evidence. Hoffman gives a great feel of what set apart both the central characters from their different origins to their rises (and in most cases falls) from power with spectacular fortunes and egos being accumulated along the way. One of the real surprises and pleasures in the story is how he does not just focus on the new business magnates but other key economists and officials such as the Mayor of Moscow in showing how a very Russian model sought to break from its past and work to avoid a resurgence of communism as a free economy was forged.
The real strength of the book is a conveying of how it actually felt in Russia at that time (the abuses and the corruption); the simple but major errors made (such as the refusal to see the rouble was heading for a dramatic devaluation) and the government's (both centrally and via different agencies and state banks) naivete in letting a small elite continually profit at the expense of the majority.
While the book is rapidly being taken over by recent events under Putin with the recent imprisonment in 2003 of Khodorovsky who was one of the few survivors by the end of this book, hopefully the writer will attempt a sequel in bringing this masterpiece fully up to date.