From “one of Russia’s smartest and best-sourced young journalists” (The New York Times)—the first work by a Russian author to reveal his country’s history of oppressing Ukraine, providing an unprecedented overview of the war for Ukrainian independence that affects us all.
As soon as the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, prominent independent Russian journalist Mikhail Zygar circulated a Facebook petition signed first by hundreds of his cultural and journalistic contacts and then by thousands of others. That act led to a new law in Russia criminalizing criticism of the war, and Zygar fled Russia. In his time as a journalist, Zygar has interviewed President Zelensky and had access to many of the major players—from politicians to oligarchs. As an expert on Putin’s moods and behavior, he has spent years studying the Kremlin’s plan regarding Ukraine, and here, in clear, chronological order he explains how we got here.
In 1996 to 2004, Ukraine became an independent post-Soviet country where everyone was connected to the former empire at all levels, financially, culturally, psychologically. However, the elite anticipated that the empire would be back and punish them. From 2004 to 2018, there were many states inside one state, each with its own rulers/oligarchs and its own interests—some of them directly connected with Russia. In 2018, a new generation of Ukrainians arrive, and having grown in an independent country, they do not consider themselves to be part of Russia—and that was the moment when the war began, as Putin could not tolerate losing Ukraine forever.
Authoritative, timely, and vitally important, this is an unique overview of the war that continues to threaten the future of the entire world as we know it.
About the Author
Mikhail Zygar worked for Newsweek Russia and the business daily Kommersant, covering the conflicts in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Serbia, and Kosovo before becoming founding editor in chief of Russia’s only independent news TV channel, Dozhd, which provided an alternative to Kremlin-controlled federal TV channels and gave a platform to opposition voices. He won the International Press Freedom Award in 2014. He is the author of All the Kremlin’s Men, a #1 bestseller in Russia that has been translated into over twenty languages and was called one of “nine books that can help you understand Russia right now” by Time magazine, and The Empire Must Die, a Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year.
“A superb account of all that led to Vladimir Putin’s brutal and misbegotten invasion of Ukraine… Zygar’s book provides an ardent, informed understanding of the present.” —New Yorker, Best Books of 2023
“To account for Russia's descent into the abyss and the most bloody war in Europe since WWII, Zygar invites us to walk an uneasy path of reconsideration of the recent past. His book is not only a guide to that past but also a powerful call to change the present.” —Serhii Plokhy, author of The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine
“[Zygar] feels he has taken up arms. . . . To change the future, the author believes we must understand the past. . . . [Thus] he writes entirely in the present tense as he journeys through the centuries.” —Stuart Miller, Los Angeles Times
"Zygar has invented a new genre. If Tolstoy's story is a wide river, Proust's is a slow river, Zygar’s is a chase. Alas, under President Putin's rule, no one would dare to publish this terrific book in Russia. So it's easy to tell if the regime has changed—if Zygar is openly on sale in Moscow shops, then yes." —Dmitry Muratov, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, 2021
"Why is my country fascist—and what is my role in that? For Russia to ever change these are the questions Russians will need to ask. Zygar does it with a searing mix of history and self-reflection." —Peter Pomerantsev, author of This Is Not Propaganda
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