Top positive review
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A clear account of the post-Communist asset grab!
on 4 August 2005
Amongst the many books on this subject which I have read, I found this to be a remarkable book. The content will astonish even the most staunch market capitalist, but also the clarity of style and story-like weaving of the author's approach makes this book difficult to put down. Chrystia Freeland explains (often amusingly) the complicated subject of how and why Russia got into such a mess after Yeltsin, in August 1991, "clambered onto a tank" proclaiming freedom and prosperity to the Russian people. This difficult to understand subject has been delivered in an easy-to-take pill. A step by step illumination unravels the wheeling/dealing psychology and self-justification of the grabbers and the frustrations of the motivated Young Reformers with whom they made their uncomfortable alliance. The Prologue, a moving personal story of a Kazan orphan being adopted by a Canadian family, sets the mood. The book then rapidly moves into a roller coaster world of cold-hard business, obstinate red-managers, Machiavellian civil servants and bewildered politicians. Various oligarchs and ordinary Russians are singled out and their stories are told candidly in journalistic style. One can't help but admire the plots and sub-plots which, if they were not factual, would make for far fetched fiction. The icing on the cake comes with the closing chapter, simply called "Conclusion". It recalls the exhilarating but sad fact of how it all went sour but goes on to uncover, if not predict, the revival of the old Slavonic idea of the Russian spirit.