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

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

From a leading journalist in Moscow and correspondent for The New Yorker, a groundbreaking portrait of modern Russia and the inner struggles of the people who sustain Vladimir Putin's rule

"Unforgettable . . . This is a book about Putin's Russia that is unlike any other."--Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Say Nothing

In this rich and novelistic tour of contemporary Russia, Joshua Yaffa introduces readers to some of the country's most remarkable figures--from politicians and entrepreneurs to artists and historians--who have built their careers and constructed their identities in the shadow of the Putin system. Torn between their own ambitions and the omnipresent demands of the state, each walks an individual path of compromise. Some muster cunning and cynicism to extract all manner of benefits and privileges from those in power. Others, finding themselves to be less adept, are left broken and demoralized. What binds them together is the tangled web of dilemmas and contradictions they face.

Between Two Fires chronicles the lives of a number of strivers who understand that their dreams are best--or only--realized through varying degrees of cooperation with the Russian government. With sensitivity and depth, Yaffa profiles the director of the country's main television channel, an Orthodox priest at war with the church hierarchy, a Chechen humanitarian who turns a blind eye to persecutions, and many others. The result is an intimate and probing portrait of a nation that is much discussed yet little understood. By showing how citizens shape their lives around the demands of a capricious and frequently repressive state--as often by choice as under threat of force--Yaffa offers urgent lessons about the true nature of modern authoritarianism.

Title:Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin's Russia
Edition Language:English

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

  • David Wineberg

    Russia has always been a mystery. How is it that Russians put up with so much, and come back for more? From their perspective, this is largely the way life is, and it is the West that is perverse. In ...

  • Marks54

    Few phrases are more common in the popular media that those exhorting individuals to “make a difference”, “contribute to society”, and other ways to “achieve something” while “helping ot...

  • Trevor Groce

    I was swept away by the complex portraits of conflicted individuals facing compelling conflicts that make up this book. The author has clearly spent a great deal of time interacting with most of the s...

  • Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    Nancy Pelosi told Donald Trump that with him it all leads back to Putin. In Russia, just about everyone finds that is true in their own lives. Joshua Yaffa, an American journalist, has spent much of t...

  • K

    A series of short biographies of individuals in Russia, focusing on the topic of moral compromise in the face of a non-democratic state. There are many books about Russia these days, and some are so c...

  • Venkatesh

    This book is pretty much examples of people in Russia making moral choices or 'compromises' to be able to be able to achieve some goals that are important to them. They're deep dives on specific peopl...

  • James

    4.5* The Elizaveta Glinka chapter was the best....

  • Miguel

    Between Two Fires focuses on six or so characters who lived or are living in Putin’s Russia (or former Soviet Union) as we get a glimpse into the personal hardships of everyday Russians (and Ukraini...

  • DEBORAH SHAW

    The author explained well the reason individuals in Russia deal with the politics of their country the way they do. It also made me consider even more what is happening here in our own country. ...

  • Alex Wilkins

    The premise of Between Two Fires is a simple one: the best way to understand Russia is through its people. Not its leaders, or even those in positions of power - but those people who have had to conto...