What to know about Russia, revolts and 1917

This Week, Those Books

Welcome to the third instalment of This Week, Those Books, your rundown on books new and old that resonate with the week’s news and developments. The few minutes you take to read this newsletter will make you smarter, faster…guaranteed. Here, you will find a deep dive on fiction and non-fiction about the week’s big story and/or perfect watercooler convo and dinner party small talk. (The first post on ‘dictator chic’ is here. The second post on ecocide and the late, great Cormac McCarthy is here.)

Let’s get started.

Russia is the word of a week that began in the way the previous one ended — with international befuddlement over the state of Putin’s Russia.

After 23 years in power, has President Vladimir Putin been fatally weakened by the 36-hour mutiny launched by former ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, boss of private military company Wagner?

Sixteen months after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, is nuclear-armed Russia an increasingly fragile state?

Putin himself has compared the short-lived Wagner mutiny to 1917, a significant year for Russia. In 1917, the unpopular Tsar Nicholas II abdicated — ending the Romanov dynasty’s 304-year rule — and the provisional government was forced to rely on revolutionary forces to help foil a coup. It weakened Russia’s First World War efforts, empowered the Bolsheviks and toppled the government of the day.

Fast forward to 2023…and we find an interrupted coup while the Ukraine war grinds on. Is Russia’s past fusing with its present and likely future? Read on to find out what to read for background and context as we address this and other questions.

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Dear Reader, this week reminds me of those books:

Originally published at https://rashmee.substack.com.