Customer Review

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zersetzung, 9 Nov 2011
This review is from: Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia (Hardcover)
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. And as Harding tells us in disturbing detail, they are now resurfacing in Russia. Combined with the "hard terror" of persecuting and even murdering dissenters, about which he also writes. Read this book to learn what it means to live in a state run by people who cannot abide being criticized.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,667,619