Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia

Tim Duggan: Crown. Jan. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781524760595. $28. POL SCI
Moscow-based New Yorker correspondent Yaffa has been reporting on Russia since first traveling to the county as a college student. In his first book, Yaffa profiles various Russians, from politicians to artists to historians, who have grown up and lived in the shadow of Vladimir Putin’s political regime. The narrative begins with a study of Russia shortly before the end of the Cold War, showing how those living in strict environments have the ability to accept harsh rule, yet still manage to manipulate the system in order to achieve personal success. For example, Yaffa follows a humanitarian in Chechnya who can only fulfill their duties by ignoring atrocities and persecutions in that region. With sensitivity, the author tells the stories of people living in a repressive, authoritarian era, how they deal with moral and ethical issues, and how they use the system to their advantage in order to survive.
VERDICT A worthy addition to any collection studying contemporary Russia or authoritarianism.
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