In particular, the chapters of 'Moscow is not Russia', 'Moscow the Colonialist' and 'Chinese Nightmares' are outstanding. Sep 21, Simon Woell rated it really liked it. A bit repetitive at time, but generally fantastic. Presents unheard of information about a very misunderstood man. Mar 07, Vanjr rated it it was amazing Shelves: A fascinating look at modern Russia.
This is a very well researched study of Russia under Vladimir Putin. Always concerned with the political angle of this modern day Tsar, Judah studies the rise of Putin from a relatively unflattering career in the FSB through to him becoming an immovable rock in the Kremlin. Putin's early years are interesting and I enjoyed the reminiscences of his early teachers. His whole calculated rise through the Russian political structure always displays a calculating and cool yet opportunistic politician. His consolidation of power has been very extreme and in spite of United Russia being a new form of one party state apparatus, endemic with corruption, there is no doubt that Putin is a force that is here to stay.
What is perhaps surprising is that in spite of genuine mass popularity, the Russian people are now discontent with their leader and although they face steep obstacles, credible democratic opposition is emerging, headed by the interesting internet hero, Navalny. Russia's move from democracy towards a quasi-Soviet style economy, the empire dominated by Moscow, paints an interesting picture of this huge superpower nation. I found the author's trips around the hinterland to reveal some fascinating insights into Modern Russia and the problems that it and its people face.
This is a very good book, if perhaps a little too biased against Putin, it is a worthy opinion of the situation of this new Russian empire. Aug 12, Lina rated it really liked it Shelves: Not being familiar with Russian history beyond what I was taught way back when in a dusty history class, this was a really insightful read! The middle parts were a bit dry but I especially enjoyed the last part of the book where the author travels outside of Moscow to regions of Russia that rarely see anything of Moscow unless it involves installing new state-appointed governors that rule over the regions in more or less corrupt ways.
Learning about the different mindsets of Muscovites compared Not being familiar with Russian history beyond what I was taught way back when in a dusty history class, this was a really insightful read! Learning about the different mindsets of Muscovites compared to the people living in the far flung regions was fascinating. Sep 21, Hannah Smith rated it liked it. A fascinating book about modern Russia. The arguments are at times deeply flawed Euro-centric, linear narrative of progress, conjecture and speculation rather than fact , but this book is valuable for showing how people in Russia though mostly Muscovites actually think about politics and respond to Putin.
May 30, Riin Aljas rated it it was amazing. Well researched, well written, absolutely fascinating. Nov 12, Jelmer rated it it was amazing. Great book about Russia's political situation prior to May 09, Ashley Owens rated it really liked it. This was a very interesting description of Russia's recent political history, with the focus on Putin - how he came to power in a unique climate, his successes and his mistakes. Oct 18, Nikolay Krylovskiy rated it it was amazing. It's pretty unbelievable that this was written by a year old, at least to me.
Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love With Vladimir Putin by Ben Judah – review
I think it's a great snapshot of Putin's Russia, circa This is perhaps the best post-Soviet Russia material that I've read so far. It has a different feel to the others I've read which is usually highly opinionated or exclusively written from Western perspective with heavy Western bias. Fragile Empire was written with clear analysis, from how Putin was created, how Putinism works with its "Vertical of Power" and "Dictatorship of Law". It tells us how the regime gained legitimacy with positive aspects like genuine market and bureaucratic reforms, a This is perhaps the best post-Soviet Russia material that I've read so far.
It tells us how the regime gained legitimacy with positive aspects like genuine market and bureaucratic reforms, and negative ones such as using the power of "Videocracy" and the quelling of any other alternative voices in Russian politics. The author have also travel far and wide, giving us many perspective on the average citizen from St. Petersburg in the west, all the way to the decaying towns and cities on the edges of the Far East.
The chapters 'Moscow is not Russia' and 'Moscow the Colonialist' has given me a view that was completely absent in Western media. The 'Chinese Nightmares' have busted the popular myth that Chinese demographics would eventually take over the Far East. What's interesting is that this book was written before the Crimean invasion and the Ukrainian civil war, which makes me wonder what he reckons on the recent conflict.
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Nonetheless, pundits and "experts" starting to compare him to Hitler or Stalin. A mafia state monarchies back then are just mafia gangs with capes and tiaras where they gain their position not because they exceeded quotas set by the centre like China nor because they were elected by the people within that province, but because they are simply loyal. Aug 04, Tim rated it really liked it. A quite brilliant and up-to-date observance of Vladimir Putin, how he came to power in Russia, and what are his plans. Written before the recent Ukraine and Crimean adventure, the author nonetheless spells out the direction Putin was taking.
It is like the Communist Party inner circle, without all the rigamarole of having to A quite brilliant and up-to-date observance of Vladimir Putin, how he came to power in Russia, and what are his plans.
It is like the Communist Party inner circle, without all the rigamarole of having to state and restate party doctrine in periodic displays of doing the will of the people. It comes complete however, with a full court of sycophants and jesters called Parliament. But in reality, his governance is just a gathering of oligarchs who are staying one step ahead of fractures and divisions. There is a vision - it is restoring Russia to the premier power on the continent, taking back the humiliating shrinkage of the Soviet Union's collapse.
Where will it end?
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Putin is making no arrangement for a succession, something that even the Communist Party worked at. So look out if something ever happens to him. This is the book that first hooked my interest about modern Russian history and politics, as well as the rule and life of Putin. As the first book that sparked my interest, I'm going to be biased towards it. Still, I highly rate it, and that fact that it did manage to get me interested in a whole new subject newish, I was a politics undergraduate when I first read it has got to be a point in its favour.
This book covers a vast area, both thematically and geographically, and is never dull. There This is the book that first hooked my interest about modern Russian history and politics, as well as the rule and life of Putin. There are a lot of Russian names to get caught up in but once you've distinguished your Pavlovs from your Sokolovs, everything is fine. It's an engaging account of Vladimir Putin's rise from KGB middle management, to most powerful man in the world, how he holds power, and how life under him and opinions of him, are changing. It explores opposition at many levels, and briefly tackles Russia's demographic crisis too.
All in all, a brilliantly interesting read for anyone interested in Russia and Putin. Nov 22, Sonali Ekka rated it it was amazing. It's like Ben Judah has opened the lid of this gigantic black box called Russia and has uncovered the state of affairs inside this complicated structure being led by an enigma called Putin.
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Things seem much clearer after every chapter. The fact that the author has interviewed all kinds of people from all across the country, has even traveled the trans-Siberian to interview villagers in the easternmost edges of Russia, helps a non-Russian to understand the state of the people in a much better way It's like Ben Judah has opened the lid of this gigantic black box called Russia and has uncovered the state of affairs inside this complicated structure being led by an enigma called Putin.
The fact that the author has interviewed all kinds of people from all across the country, has even traveled the trans-Siberian to interview villagers in the easternmost edges of Russia, helps a non-Russian to understand the state of the people in a much better way. One of the best things about this book is that because it ends in such recent times, all developments in Russia from onwards are like a real-time sequel to this book. It's like you put down the book wondering "what next", and then get your answers by reading up news about Russia on the internet. Jan 01, J.
In fact, he believes that Putin has failed to build a strong, centralized system and as a result, both his personal political authority and the integrity of the state he runs is under threat. Fragile Empire offers a reasonable account of the protests that shook several large Russian cities in the winter of Read the full review on my blog here.
Jan 31, Robert Muller rated it did not like it Shelves: This book is not journalism or history; it is a political polemic. The first 50 pages or so are mostly reasonable, then it descends into opinion that sounds much like what you would get from any member of the Russian opposition. I'm not saying he's wrong although speaking from I don't think the Russians have fallen out of love with Putin, exactly, after Crimea, Ukraine, and Syria but he's definitely not worth reading if you want to be seriously and rigorously informed about what happened This book is not journalism or history; it is a political polemic.
I'm not saying he's wrong although speaking from I don't think the Russians have fallen out of love with Putin, exactly, after Crimea, Ukraine, and Syria but he's definitely not worth reading if you want to be seriously and rigorously informed about what happened in Russia during the Putin regime s through More facts, less invidious and apocalyptic his word language would have helped this book a lot. Couldn't finish it, too exasperated.
Nov 05, Michal Rudziecki rated it really liked it. The book is definitely a good source of information about modern Russia and its political landscape. Some parts of it, like the story of the rise and fall of oligarchs, in particular Mikhail Khodorkovsky, couldn't have been written better.
However, its main conclusion, namely the decline of the Putin empire declared by the author, turned out to be premature. In the years following the publication of this book the "Russian bear" adopted strategies which consolidated it power internally and cast a The book is definitely a good source of information about modern Russia and its political landscape.
There has been a revival of the "19th-century dialectic between the intelligentsia and the masses", Judah suggests. Putin, by contrast, is a relentless domestic traveller. Admittedly, his visits are to a Potemkin-village Russia from which dissent has been carefully edited out. But the trips form an essential part of Putin's "videocracy", his TV-mediated autocracy, with federal channels under state control. The state budget has ballooned. Last year the radical feminist outfit Pussy Riot staged an anti-Putin "prayer" in Moscow's Christ the Saviour cathedral.
This was the protest movement's biggest stunt yet.
It allowed the Kremlin to mobilise the Orthodox church in its anti-bourgeois cultural battle, and to portray the government's enemies as elitists and sexual deviants. Pussy Riot had previously staged a public orgy in a botanical museum. Two of the three women protesters are still in jail , with Putin remarking "they got what they asked for".
Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin by Ben Judah
For now, Putin has snuffed out this not-quite revolution. In his travels to Russia's ignored corners, Judah discovers little support for the liberal opposition but almost universal discontent.
Here the air "tastes metallic, thick, like toast". The roads are cracked; rotten wooden cottages sink beneath mud. Instead of too much state, Judah finds virtually no state, with Russia a "fragmented and feudalised society". This oligarch — a great beneficiary of the absurdly under-priced fire sale of state energy infrastructure assets — used his billions to both expand a business empire primarily through the implementation of various efficiencies that greatly enhanced the extraction capabilities of Soviet oil and gas mega-plexes and bankroll anti-Putin activities.
This stubborn stance cost him greatly, as he was made an example of when Putin finally arrested the tycoon on his private jet. Shaken, the other oligarchs learned an important lesson: One memorable example focuses on the supposedly shifting internal demographics, as some assume that Russia is facing a simultaneous aging crisis and new-born baby shortage which, if unaddressed, will lead inexorably to an irreversible decline. Not so, counters Judah, who argues that often undocumented influxes of labourers from well-populated but impoverished neighbouring Central Asia countries primarily former Soviety satellites have taken up the jobs refused by their hosts and stabilized population growth.
Despite his obvious talents, this work is not immune from criticism. As Judah emphatically and repeatedly points out, Putin has been far from perfect, but his abundant criticisms of him seem less newsworthy when one conducts a quick assessment of the opposition neo-Nazis or violent Islamophobes, anyone? Moreover, this reviewer would also have liked to see less repetition of some of the same facts ad nauseum references to the disparities in life expectancies between different regions of Russia comes immediately to mind.