Book Birthdays celebrate one year of a book’s life in tweets, reviews, and more. This month we’re saying Happy First Book Birthday to Russia’s Dead End: An Insider’s Testimony from Gorbachev to Putin (Potomac Books, 2017) by Andrei A. Kovalev, translated by Steven I. Levine. Kovalev served as member of the secretariat of President Mikhail Gorbachev and worked on the staff of the Security Council of the Russian Federation during the Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin administrations. Levine, a retired professor of politics and history, is the coauthor of Mao: The Real Story and Arc of Empire: America’s Wars in Asia from the Philippines to Vietnam.
About the book:
Elite-level Soviet politics, privileged access to state secrets, knowledge about machinations inside the Kremlin—such is the environment in which Andrei A. Kovalev lived and worked. In this memoir of his time as a successful diplomat serving in various key capacities and as a member of Mikhail Gorbachev’s staff, Kovalev reveals hard truths about his country as only a perceptive witness can do. In Russia’s Dead End Kovalev shares his intimate knowledge of political activities behind the scenes at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Kremlin before and after the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991, including the Russia of Vladimir Putin.
Kovalev analyzes Soviet efforts to comply with international human-rights obligations, the machinations of the KGB, and the link between corrupt oligarchs and state officials. He documents the fall of the USSR, the post-Soviet explosion of state terrorism and propaganda, and offers a nuanced historical explanation of the roots of Russia’s contemporary crisis under Vladimir Putin. This insider’s memoir provides a penetrating analysis of late-Soviet and post-Soviet Russian politics that is pungent, pointed, witty, and accessible. It assesses the current dangerous status of Russian politics and society while illuminating the path to a more just and democratic future.
“Kovalev delivers a long-winded answer, but in so doing he unmasks the Russian body politic in all its Gogol-like grotesquery.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“Told with a clear eye and an articulate pen, Russia’s Dead End is an honest look at a great nation that continues to suffer under a barbaric regime.” —Foreword Reviews
“…Astonishing in its relentless frankness and a refreshing report from an insider.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Russia’s Dead End is brilliantly written. Scholars and students of Russia and lay people will enjoy and equally benefit from it.” —The Washington Book Review
“With Congress carefully watching the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election, the international focus on Russia is strong. Andrei A. Kovalev’s book Russia’s Dead End couldn’t be timelier.” —New York Journal of Books
- Putin’s hand can clearly be seen in the chaos of a destabilized west in Newsweek
- The Framework of the Power Structures in The American Interest
On the blog:
- From the Desk of Steven I. Levine: Russian Lessons
- Publicist Picks: Willa Cather, Space Stations, and other August Books
- The Marketeers’ Club: Best of 2017