Putinism: Russia and its Future with the West by Walter Laqueur

Summary

“There is no question that tensions between Russia and America are on the rise. The forced annexation of Crimea, the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17, and the Russian government’s treatment of homosexuals have created diplomatic standoffs and led to a volley of economic sanctions. In America, much of the blame for Russia’s recent hostility has fallen on steely-eyed President Vladimir Putin and many have begun to wonder if they we are witnessing the rebirth of Cold War-style dictatorship.

Not so fast, argues veteran historian Walter Laqueur.
For two decades, Laqueur has been ahead of the curve, predicting events in post-Soviet Russia with uncanny accuracy. In Putinism, he deftly demonstrates how three long-standing pillars of Russian ideology-a strong belief in the Orthodox Church, a sense of Eurasian “manifest destiny,” and a fear of foreign enemies-continue to exert a powerful influence on the Russian populous. In fact, today’s Russians have more in common with their counterparts from 1904 than 1954 and Putin is much more a servant of his people than we might think.
Topical and provocative, Putinism contains much more than historical analysis. Looking to the future, Laqueur explains how America’s tendency to see Russia as a Cold War relic is dangerous and premature. Russia can and will challenge the West and it is in our best interest to figure out exactly who we are facing-and what they want-before it is too late.” Continue reading Putinism: Russia and its Future with the West by Walter Laqueur

On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

Summary

“The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy. Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism.  Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience.” Continue reading On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

The Last Girl by Nadia Murad

“I know now that I was born in the heart of the crimes committed against me.” Nadia Murad

Summary

I hadn’t realized how small my village was until I saw that All of Kocho could fit into a schoolyard. We stood huddled on the dry grass. Some whispered to one another, wondering what was going on. Others were silent, in shock. No one understood yet what was happening. From that moment on, every thought I had and every step I took was an appeal to God. The militants pointed their guns at us…

If you don’t want to convert, we will let you go to the mountain,” they said. And so we went to the second floor when they told us to, barley saying goodbye to the men we left in the yard. I think if we had known the truth of what was going to happen to the men, no mother would have let her son or husband go.”

Review

This is perhaps the hardest “review” I’ve ever written. Nadia Murad is a true hero, the definition of courageous and what I envision when I think of powerful women.  Continue reading The Last Girl by Nadia Murad

Defying Hitler by Sabastian Haffner

Published 1999 Picador

Summary 

“Written in 1939 and unpublished until 2000, Sabastion Haffner’s memoir of the rise of Nazism in Germany offers a unique portrait of the lives of ordinary German citizens between the wars. Covering 1907 to 1933, his astute and compelling eyewitness accounts provide a portrait of a country in constant flux; from the pervasive influence of the Free Corps, the precursor to the Nazi storm troopers, and the Hitler Youth movement that swept the nation, to his own family’s financial struggles during the apocalyptic year of 1923 when inflation crippled the country and contributed to Hitler’s rise to power.” Continue reading Defying Hitler by Sabastian Haffner