Magazine article Russian Life

Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russia

Magazine article Russian Life

Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russia

Article excerpt

PUTIN COUNTRY: A JOURNEY INTO THE REAL RUSSIA

Anne Garrels (FSG, $26)

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Anne Garrels, one of America's most experienced and fearless journalists, has covered Russia intimately for much of the past 30 years. She had two postings in Moscow, one that ended in expulsion in 1982 as persona non grata, and another after the fall of the USSR.

During the latter posting, she at one point decided she wanted to "adopt" a single Russian city and get to know and understand it truly well. That city, selected with a pencil toss at a map, was Chelyabinsk. As a result, Garrels has traveled to the Siberian city countless times over the past two decades and developed deep ties to the people living out their lives there.

This book is the fruit of that commitment. Through pointed interviews, salient vignettes, and a dense narrative style, Garrels refracts many issues of Russian society through the lens of a rather representative industrial city. Crisp chapters focus on issues of marriage, adoption, work, business, the military, crime, drugs, human rights, church, schools, etc.

It must be said, however, that this is not a book that will leave you upbeat or optimistic about where Russia is headed. …

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