- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (3 Mar. 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0349112606
- ISBN-13: 978-0349112602
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.6 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 302,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Sale Of The Century: The Inside Story of the Second Russian Revolution Paperback – 3 Mar 2005
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"Everything Marx told us about communism was false. But it turns out that everything he told us about capitalism was true". So says one Russian friend of Chrystia Freeland, author of the remarkable Sale of the Century: The Inside Story of the Second Russian Revolution, which tells the story of "Russia's flawed capitalist revolution" from Boris Yeltsin's election as president of Russia in 1991 to his resignation on the last day of 1999.
Freeland spent three years as the Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times between 1995 and 1998, leaving her uniquely placed to write one of the first accounts of Russia's exhilarating, but also painful and desperate transition from communism to capitalism in the final years of the 20th century. She charts the initial hope inspired by the young reformers led by Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar, who introduced the free market "shock therapy" in 1992 which kick-started the Russian capitalist economy, to the corruption and cynicism of the oligarchs like Vladimir Gusinsky and Boris Berezovsky, who got rich quick by seizing the valuable remnants of the old Soviet economy and (in some cases literally) making a killing. Freeland tells a fascinating story as she travels the country from the Siberian gas fields to the inner sanctums of the Moscow oligarchs. In the process she comes to realise that "Russia had freed itself from communism but not from the communist legacy; it had constructed its own capitalist system, only to discover it had built the wrong kind." This is an absorbing and highly readable book detailing history in the making, as one the world's most powerful nations teeters on the brink of renewal or disaster; if Marx could read Sale of the Century, he would undoubtedly applaud. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
We now have a superb piece of reportage on the central years of the oligarchic era - which may prove, at least in its pure form, to be coterminous with the Yeltsin period ... This book ... is a tremendous illumination of early Russian business methods... Freeland's account of the central deal of the era... reads, at times, like Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full (John Lloyd, NEW STATESMAN)
If Marx could read SALE OF THE CENTURY, he would undoubtedly applaud. (Professor Jerry Brotton)
This could so easily have been a deeply inpenetrable book. The shenanigans involving the assorted sell-offs, buy-outs and changing alliances in Russia in the past ten years have been so complex as to leave even dedicated readers feeling confused. Chrystia Freeland's achievement in SALE OF THE CENTURY is thus all the more remarkable in weaving a gripping narrative out of all the anarchy and chaos. (INDEPENDENT)
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Top Customer Reviews
In my opinion it is incredibly difficult to write a good book about recent events in Russia, and this is a real achievement. Complex events are explained with clarity and verve. The author's access to many of Russia's senior businessmen and politicians provides strong primary historical evidence of events that I had thought were shrouded in mystery. The Russian oligarchs that colluded with the state to take valuable companies at knockdown prices (hence "Sale of the Century") are incredibly indiscreet (or brazenly frank) in interviews with Freeland about their often corrupt practices.
Whilst there are some terrific books about the 1917 revolution (e.g. Figes), it is wrong to have the same expectations of a book about recent events because we still trying to make sense of them. Freeland has emphasised the events that she experienced directly, or that are well documented, but there is a great deal left for other writers to cover.
It is a page-turner, and always readable, but there are times when, in adding local colour, Freeland over-embellishes. The descriptions of Tverskaya's prostitutes and some out-of-Moscow trips are clichés that do not ring true. More seriously, the lack of contact with mid-ranking entrepreneurs and the Russia outside of Moscow skews the book's perspective - although this is a failing shared by Russia's political elite.
This is probably the definitive guide to Russia's high politics from 1991-99 and I recommend it strongly.
Freeland's account of the role which Gaidar and Chubais had in bringing about some of the momentous econmic and political changes of that time is first rate.
Although we now have a growing volume of literature covering this period, Freeland's book remains a 'classic' of it's kind.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Covering perhaps the single-most important and radical period of events and change in the economic and political history charting the transition from the straight-jacket of... Read morePublished 21 months ago by DOPPLEGANGER
Some people have a hard time making sense of this period of Russian history. Judging by this book, Ms Freeland is one of them. Read morePublished on 2 Feb. 2011 by Vf Glover
I was very disappointed with this book. The writer's style is formulaic, stringing adjectives together unimaginatively (must everything Soviet be dull or grey? Read morePublished on 3 May 2010 by Andrew Metcalfe
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