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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 25 July 2017
Very insightful view into the scary and murky world of global politics and the even darker world of the mega billionaires. Even stranger is that the Russian public are probably aware of a lot of this but still put their faith in Putin....
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on 15 June 2017
Very inciteful and some really good background discussion, must read for anyone studying politics
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on 23 March 2016
The book reminds the history of spying. However, the spying is related to one country - Russia. This process is described in details covering the spies from Russia and the Western spies who spied in the Soviet Russia. But, as it is said every book has disadvantages. What are they? It takes some time to understand why the spies have been useful in the Cold War, which lasted for 40 years. Also, why there was a conflict between Russia and the Western countries. Besides, the disadvantages of the Soviet Union have been examines in details.

The cover of the book is misleading, because the book is the history of spying, but not the story of the Russian president.
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VINE VOICEon 3 May 2012
The problem with the world of shadows is that, by definition, one never really knows what's going on in it. But just occasionally, the grubs and moles rise to the surface and we catch a glimpse. The recent coroner's enquiry in London into MI6's Gareth Williams mysterious death is a case in point, as were the horrendous radiation-caused death of Aleksandr Litvinenko in 2009 and the unmasking of Anna Chapman since then.

But Edward Lucas is a respected journalist with 25 years of experience covering Eastern Europe and Russia - and so deserves to be taken seriously when he claims to cast light on the shadows. His is a well researched and careful book, but his writing style is punchy and very readable. If the subject matter wasn't so sinister and threatening, it would be an enjoyable read. But it is profoundly relevant - not least because Vladimir Putin has only just returned to the seat so carefully kept warm for him by Dmitry Medvedev. And what Lucas rather grimly terms the unholy trinity of Gangsterdom, Spookdom and Officialdom that controls modern Russia (p78) presents genuine threats to the rest of the world, and especially Europe (now that the USA is becoming more concerned with its Pacific rather than Atlantic vista). Having lost an empire, he rightly notes that while there is little nostalgia for the ideology of the Soviet era in Moscow, many clearly feel a sense of humiliation at their lost power and prestige. With an economy in tatters through corruption, bureaucracy and the failure to innovate, the power of the old intelligence services is one of the few things to remain intact and functioning well.

As evidence, Lucas carefully examines the details of a number of important recent cases. Most disturbing was the case of Sergei Magnitsky - a courageous lawyer who suffered primarily for doing his job of defending his client's interests. And this elicits one of Lucas' characteristically pithy and devastating verdicts: "It is a sure sign of a rotten legal and political system when lawyers are punished for the crime of representing their clients." (p39) Later, he examines the modern Russian illegals, of whom Anna Chapman was the most notorious (and, from the profile here, clearly the most inept). While it is clear that the western intelligence services can't claim a consistently impressive record in recent years, they have not stopped functioning either. And it fascinating to read, in passing, his articulations of the paradoxes of the spy world, the sorts of mentality a good spy needs, the huge difficulty of creating illegals. But the overall impression is clear. Russia's security and intelligence services are hard at work, perhaps as much as they have ever been.

The reason this is all serious is that the west has let its guard down - for political and economic reasons, it wants to do business with Russia, to put the old Cold War antipathies behind them. But this creates an open door for the FSB & SVR - an open door which is being exploited with alacrity. This book certainly does not appear to hanker after the past, nor harbour a blinkered outmoded prejudice against Russia (as a previous reviewer has suggested). In fact, what makes the problem feel most contemporary is that the issue is no longer ideology - but power and wealth. This is serious because it is actually a matter of state-sponsored crime and exploitation. Which means that we should be wary of exactly what Russia's intentions are. Of course, it seems clear (e.g. from Wikileaks) that behind the press-statements, governments have few illusions about what they are dealing with. But the prevailing anxieties about preserving good diplomatic relations (the USA's 'reset'), the focus on counter-terrorism rather than counter-espionage, and the difficult politics involved in being more openly alert, seem to have put the west on the back foot. If this book can bring about more transparency and vigour in dealing with this issue, then Edward Lucas will have done us a great service indeed.
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on 5 June 2013
I am a fan of Edward Lucas but he has definitely not produced his best with this effort.

While I think he does enough to support his central premise, the writing lacks structure and the stories seemed, to me, to be all over the place. Not only did I find the chapter order to be disjointed, but I also felt the narrative within chapters was not always sequential. The mixture of first and third person accounts is perhaps understandable, but at times I was unable to distinguish between non-fictional narration and plain story-telling. That said, the author otherwise references well and knows his stuff.

I was also quite annoyed by the number of typos and formatting problems, including repeat sentences, in the Kindle version.

This book was written by a man who shows he is very comfortable in this space and who has good research and analytical skills. However, I really think the book would have been much better had more attention been paid to structuring to make the delivery smoother. 7/10
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on 17 October 2013
This was a fascinating read by an author who clearly knows his stuff. I found it one of those books that I couldn't wait to carry-on reading. Not long after finishing it, I noticed a couple of seemingly unlinked news items that made me realise just how naive we in the West (well, the UK anway)are. One concerned a move by the EU to introduce very restrictive rules hat would hamper shale-gas extraction within the EU. Nothing to do with Russia you might think? Read this and think again. If you're interested in this kind of international politico-journalism, then this will be a rewarding book.
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on 23 November 2016
Some of the stories are known, but the author presents facets of the murky world of espionage and counterespionage not analysed in newspaper reports.

It would have been exciting as a thriller but the book depicts a chilling reality - the increase of the Russian espionage under Putin's paranoid dictatorial regime to the level URSS used to have before its dissolution.
It is frustrating the book was published in 2013. Since then Putin's regime became even more brazen and include media presence and attempts to influence the elections in the West and military aggression in the East.
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on 6 March 2013
The book is fair, courageous, insightful. A Well balanced description of the potential and the method of the reckless organisation which controls Russia and is able to manipulate Western media, public opinion and politicians. Clarly able to outwit everyone and disregard any (conventional) moral standard.
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on 15 September 2014
excellent read on the mechanics of the modern Russian state, even more so in light of recent events in eastern Ukraine
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on 26 April 2015
When turning over the last page of The New Cold War I looked forward to be enlightened anew.

This time, reading Lucas' second book was like peeling layer upon layers of an onion, or unscrewing a colourful Matryoshka doll, except when reaching the centre, there was nothing, emptiness. Had I missed something? Perhaps the title was the give away - Deception.

Observers follow impressions, shadows, even mirrors, because everything in the real world is meant to operate normally - when in reality life in global politics is an amalgam of scripted performances of single or multi-act plays. At the heart, in Russia's capital Moscow outside the Lubyanka the only difference from Soviet days is the absence of the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet security services, toppled in 1991, with the plinth made from large rock from Solovki, the first Soviet gulag, is all that remains. Here lies the FSA, better known formerly as the KGB, the Cheka, with a direct ancestral line chasing back to the Okhrana of Tsarist days, a very professional, efficient, and when required excessively violent organization. Names, faces of heads and agents might change over time, but the work lives on, evolves, as do the objectives remain.

The primary change - which Edward Lucas realises to date few recognise, is the world itself. It is no longer bi-polar, where the professionals accepted rules and limits; in Russia today the rule is to fight by all means to win, conquer, and dominate over all. Russia society, led from high by the former KGB operator, in the Kremlin, is authoritarian, and oppressive: any dissent is criminalised, anyone unwilling to compromise or desist - such as the lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky to the US born investor, Bill Browden, is brutally eliminated in legitimate, underworld style. Russians spotted in contact with Westerners are now deemed "traitors", "fifth columnist", deserving periods of rehabilitation in the new labour camps or in isolated mental wards Kicking the Kremlin: Russia's New Dissidents and the Battle to Topple Putin. Russia prides itself the heart of a rich 1,000 year Byzantine civilisation, and is fighting a crusade against the dark forces of western immorality: paedolphilia, feminism, HIV/AIDs, and the dreaded EU / US imperialism, with the President's regiments of spies, informers, and trained killers, called upon to extend the frontiers and influence of his new Empire - something his Soviet predecessors never claimed to do.

The author stresses it is not sufficient to blow the trumpets of success whenever Russian spies have been smoked out and disclosed since the end of Communism: the author recounts at length about the party loving Anna Chapman in Britain, of Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley (alias Andrei Bezrukov and Yelena Vavilova) in the US, and of Hermann Simm in Estonia - showing a labour of tireless love to go the final mile and produce great investigative journalism, or of the valuable material passed on from defectors Oleg Gordievsky and Vasily Mitrokhin The Mitrokhin Archive: The KGB in Europe and the West (Penguin Press History), a brilliant achievement for the Western security services - the CIA and MI6 in particular. Nor is it enough to repeat that the past mistakes were principally due to the handful of "traitors" - whether the establishment "four": Philby, Burgess, Maclean, and Blunt in Britain, or of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen in the 1990s in the US, and of honey-trap scandals: like the Keeler-Profumo-Ivanov affair. History, he argues strongly, since 1917 is littered with stories of deception, of reckless, easily flattered amateurs, including the great "Ace of Spies" (Sidney Reilly) Reilly: Ace of Spies, An Affair with a Married Woman / Prelude to War [DVD], or the children's author Arthur Ransome, of Swallows and Amazons fame Swallows and Amazons (Vintage Children's Classics), who with oversight left addresses, or talked too much, sending brave, not-thinking men and women to their deaths, whose names to date have for long been overlooked, or erased from Western histories simply because they were not officially on the pay-roll, or because they were mere foreigners. A poor memory for possible allies: fortunately, they feel they have need and a trust in Western failures.

Any spy disclosure takes time before it is properly investigated into because it underlines the weaknesses, and the unprepared nature of Western society, something which few wish to admit in public: most of all, Lucas hints it is due to a tactless practice of failing to carry out regular controls and trusting the claims of individuals - the Russian Katya Zatuliveter, Lib Dem Mike Hancock, MP,'s parliamentary assistant - when they should not. The problem for politicians and spymasters will not concern those who were uncovered (who flee or get locked up), but a feeling remains that some unknown stool pigeons may still exist, have gone underground or simply remained inactive until normal cordial relations and trust resumes. Whatever happens relations will become cool, strained, with information circulated only among the most trusted - which would compromise
relations, even eventually drive away the excluded sensitive ally - which would be a bonus for Russia! Perhaps, the West's greatest failing, is an arrogant conviction that the defeat of the Soviet Union provided the West with a good track record for the future, which is as ridiculous and effectively as damning as the French inter-war confidence that disarmament, together with the construction of the Maginot Line would suffice to stand firm against its natural enemy in the next war.

The reality, instead, is very uncertain and worrying, in particular for realistic commentators, who will surely be hounded and branded by the Lefties as deluded nostalgics of past imperialist grandeur, and behaving as war mongers, until a new wave of terrorist bombings strike, as they did in London in July 2005, and then these scribblers transform themselves into fully blown nationalists, demanding to know where the cut security forces were doing.

In NATO, only two European members (France and the UK) are investing 2% of GDP in defence as proposed by President Obama, whereas Russia intends to double its defence budget from 3 per cent to 6 per cent of GDP within the next 10 years, demonstrating the importance of defence for the Russian leadership. Russia employs quick Machiavellian divide and rule games, encouraging quick fix national interests between members of the EU and NATO against one another; and should that fail to bend foreign governments to the whims of Moscow it will try to bring dissent abroad by subsidising national parties abroad of all colours who are prepared to favour the leader, to undermine Western unity.

In addition, Russia has continued to repeat the false tale that NATO is on a war footing, and totally unreliable, having gone back on its promise not to involve itself in expansion to the East, including Georgia, Ukraine, Moldovia, where there are large concentrations of Russian "speakers" - depicted by the unfree Russian media as "compatriots", living within the borders of those former Soviet territories who need protection. However, there is a worse scenario blooming: Russia has made real intimidating threats on two of NATOs new members, Poland, and Estonia, in the Zapad exercises in 2009, and should NATO choose to ignore these moves seriously, not only will the organization cease to have a real future, nor will the furthest eastern unprotected Baltic States in the EU feel secure, having real visions of a historical repetition of 1940, with Soviet troops goose-stepping into Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and becoming territories of the Soviet Union when the West was fully preoccupied elsewhere against another evil power. So, who is the war mongerer: NATO or Russia?

Every political, economic sanction or military action taken against Russia must be seen as necessary evil for the future of a peaceful Europe. If no effective stands are taken, Russia's leadership will feel it has a god-given right to command the future of other free peoples - which means Europe will function as a collection of colonies or a subordinate entity of Russia as the former Eastern bloc was, with the same freedoms and rights allowed as in Mother Russia.

The leader is the same person who in June 2005 in St Petersburg saw a diamond-studded Super Bowl ring, worth $25,000, on the finger of Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, tried it on, muttered: "I could kill someone for this", then put it in his pocket, drawing his security guards around him. Three months later a similar incident occurred in New York at the Guggenheim Museum, when an exhibit was confiscated. It shows a profound lack of respect, and contempt for the rights and properties of others. "I like it, I get it, and blow to all you inferiors". Could you trust someone in business who when knowing you have a fear of dogs chooses to bring his Labrador to the conference to wander around and sniff at all the guests, as occurred to Chancellor Angela Merkel? It reminds one of President Hacha of Czechoslavakia kept waiting for hours in March 1939 by another despot.

It thus signifies, the powerhouse of NATO, the US, must in future be willing to review its operations away from the Pacific, and more back to Europe, in case certain of its European allies seem unable to quickly reach certain standards.

Lucas refrains from depicting Russia today as a terrorist police state as it was in the 1930s, as some opposition occasionally is heard. The leadership has been able to control society without causing fear to most. But should a major change occur: the threat of a real internal or external conflict being felt by those in the Kremlin, then naturally military law in Tiannaman Square style would result More recently, Lucas admits Russia's leadership shows more interest in war games. If history is a guide there is need for a voice, like Churchill's, to unite the West against the evil of Putin. That figure may exist, but the voice has either still not spoken, or has not been heard, much less listened to. Edward Lucas' work in uncovering Putin's very dangerous deceptive games will act as a vital message for that future saviour. 6 stars for investigative journalism, 4 for history
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