Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin's Russia (Paperback)
  • Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin's Russia (Paperback)
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Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin's Russia (Paperback)

(author)
£10.99
Paperback 368 Pages
Published: 07/01/2021
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Waterstones Says

Dissecting the authoritarianism of Putin’s Russia through personal testimony from a range of its inhabitants, Yaffa paints a compelling picture of fear, coercion and moral compromise under the watchful eye of the all-powerful state.

Winner of the Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2021

In this penetrating exploration of contemporary Russia, Joshua Yaffa meets a variety of Russians - 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 has found that compromise is essential for survival and success. Some extract benefits and privileges through cunning and cynicism, others less adept at navigating the system are left broken and demoralized.

With sensitivity and depth, Yaffa profiles Russians from institutions such as the Bolshoi and Channel 1, from the major cities, and from regions such as Chechnya, post-annexation Crimea, and the Urals, including an Orthodox priest at war with the church hierarchy and a Chechen humanitarian who turns a blind eye to persecutions.

The result is an intimate and probing portrait of a nation much discussed but little understood. And by showing how citizens shape their lives around the demands of a capricious and repressive state, Yaffa offers urgent lessons about the nature of modern authoritarianism.

Publisher: Granta Books
ISBN: 9781783783724
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 258 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Exquisitely crafted... [Yaffa's] skilled, self- reflective reportage is so fair that it surfaces a different lesson about Russian liberals' incomprehension of ideological complexity, efficacy, or compromise as a force of good, not just evil.... Joshua Yaffa humanely elucidates how the universal phenomenon of moral compromise differs in Russia because the state looms so large - TLS

A sparkling analysis... [a] rich and detailed examination of how Putinism works...This is a measured, clever, well-researched and superbly written work. It will be read long after [the books explaining how Trump has been a KGB agent for 30 years] are deservedly forgotten' - Guardian

Few journalists have penetrated so deep and with so much nuance into the moral ambiguities of Russia. If you want insight into the deeper distortions the Kremlin causes in people's psyches this book is invaluable - Peter Pomerantsev

Between Two Fires is a study of compromise, opportunism, and the fraught moral choices available in Putin's Russia. In a series of carefully reported stories, Joshua Yaffa shows how people choose-sometimes consciously and other times not-to adapt, change and otherwise 'make do' in an authoritarian state. This is the real story of how modern authoritarianism works and even thrives, by manipulating the motivations of the regime's most capable and ambitious citizens - Anne Applebaum

This is a book about Putin's Russia that is unlike any other... With a novelist's eye for the telling detail and a philosopher's grasp of moral nuance, Yaffa strings together a sequence of unforgettable portraits, each linked by a central question: how do you reconcile the life you want to live -- the ambitions, the principles -- with the realities of an illiberal system? The result is a profound inquiry into the myriad gradations of individual compromise in post-Soviet Russia, and as good an explanation as I've encountered for how Putin has managed to stay in power for as long as he has - Patrick Radden Keefe

In Between Two Fires, Joshua Yaffa brilliantly captures the complex choices and compromises that Russians make to survive, thrive, or remain true to one's principles in Putin's Russia. Through captivating storytelling, Yaffa drills deep into profiles of a very diverse set of Russian personalities, capturing with nuance the contradictions of contemporary Russia - Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia

Joshua Yaffa's portrait of a people is a triumph-a brilliantly original, deeply literate path through the moral struggles and calculations of a modern Russia he knows in his bones. He is allergic to the caricatures of the ruler and the ruled, and is, simply, a beautiful writer, with the humane, tragicomic eye of a novelist and the tough-minded rigor of the best journalists - Evan Osnos, author of, Age of Ambition

Fizzingly clever... subtle - Telegraph

Yaffa skilfully weaves together perceptive descriptions of flesh-and-blood people with a balanced evocation of the wider political and historical context... Yaffa has a good eye for colourful detail [...] and he proves attentive to the subtleties and ambiguities of Russian life - Financial Times

Wonderfully insightful... Well-told and neatly interlinked - Economist

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