Must Reads

This page lists my favourite books. I hope you enjoy reading them.

More will be added in coming days and weeks.

Best regards,

Edward Lucas

 


Karen Dawisha
“Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who owns Russia?”
I helped get this book published after it was nearly stymied by legal difficulties.
A terrific read. Karen and I appear in “Putin’s Way”, a PBS film.

 


Arkady Ostrovsky
“The Invention of Russia: The Journey from Gorbachev’s Freedom to Putin’s War”
Prize-winning account of modern Russia by my friend and colleague at the Economist.

 


Peter Pomerantzev
“Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia”
The definitive book on the Kremlin’s propaganda machine.

 


Anne Applebaum
“Gulag: A History”
The definitive account of Stalin’s crimes against the inmates of the Soviet empire, by one of my oldest friends.

 


Anne Applebaum
“Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956”
How the Soviet occupiers (who called themselves liberators) crushed opposition and civilised life in eastern Europe.

 


Anne Applebaum
“Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine”
Searing account of the artificial famine that Stalin imposed on Ukraine.

Robert Conquest
“The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine” (Paperback)
Until Anne Applebaum’s brilliant new book this was the definitive account of the mass murders in Ukraine.
It was mocked at the time, but has been utterly vindicated by later scholarship.

 


Anne Applebaum
“Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe”
Anne’s first book – a trip from the Baltic to the Black sea across the ruins of the Soviet empire.
Newly reissued in paperback.

 


Anne Applebaum
“From a Polish Country House Kitchen: 90 Recipes for the Ultimate Comfort Food”
If you like Polish food, you’ll love this.
If you think you don’t, then read the book: it will change your mind.

 


Anton Shekhovtsov
“Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir
(Routledge Studies in Fascism and the Far Right)”, 1st Edition
Anton is a brilliant analyst of Russian political warfare. I was proud to blurb his book and urge everyone to read it.
The paradox of a regime that claims the “anti-fascist” mantle of World War Two but supports fascist movements in
neighbouring countries cannot be highlighted enough!

 


Garry Kasparov
“Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the
Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped”
Garry Kasparov is a brave Russian who lives in exile. This book is a call to arms for the West to
take Russia seriously. I reviewed it here, in the London Times.

 


Masha Gessen
“The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia”
Masha is a friend but even if she wasn’t I’d be a huge fan. I reviewed this poignant book on the
post-1991 generation in the London Times, here.

 


Fiona Hill and Cliff Gaddy
“Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin”
This is the definitive take on Putin’s Russia. Fiona Hill is a friend, now in charge of Russia
at the National Security Council. She also used to be National Intelligence Officer for Russia.
The footnotes in this book are particularly worth reading.

 


Ben Judah
“Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin”
Ben is a brilliant reporter and this book reflects his ability to get deep inside a story.

 


Amy Knight
“Orders to Kill: The Putin Regime and Political Murder”
Amy is one of the leading experts in the West on the KGB and its successor organisations.
This book is a sizzling account of political murders ordered by the Kremlin.

 


Robert Conquest
“Reflections on a Ravaged Century”
Everything Bob Conquest wrote was brilliant, but this is a particularly useful retrospective
lambasting of the monstrous ideologies that scarred the past decades.

 



David Remnick
“Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire”, Reprint Edition
The author was the best of the late Soviet-era foreign correspondents. This book is excellent, though the sequel.
“Resurrection” is less good.

 


General Sir Richard Shirreff
“War with Russia:An Urgent Warning from Senior Military Command
Lurid account of a war in the Baltics.
Lots of interesting military detail, but frames the problem wrongly.

 

Robert Conquest
“The Great Terror: A Reassessment” (40th Anniversary Edition)
Conquest’s immortal account of the catastrophe that Stalin inflicted on his people.

 


Anna Politkovskaya
“The Dirty War”
Everything that my late lamented colleague wrote is worth reading. This is her take on the Chechen war,
which she covered with such distinction.

 


Giles Udy
“Labour and the Gulag: Russia and the Seduction of the British Left”
Giles Udy’s brilliant and iconoclastic book highlights the extraordinary and wilful blindness showed by
Britain’s Labour party towards the evils of Soviet totalitarianism, especially its dependence on slave labour.
I praised in this review for the London Times.

 


Masha Gessen
“The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin”
I think this is the best of Masha’s many books. It digs deeply and angrily into the darkest secrets
of the man who now runs Russia.

 


Peter Conradi
“Who Lost Russia? How the World Entered a New Cold War”
Thorough and balanced account of the way east-west relations have declined.
I gave it a broadly favourable review here, in the London Times.

 


Timothy Snyder
“Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin”
The definitive take on east-central Europe’s descent into the Nazi-Soviet meatgrinder,
I praised it here and reviewed it in the Economist here.

 


Andrei Kovalev
“Russia’s Dead End: An Insider’s Testimony from Gorbachev to Putin”
A scorchingly pessimistic denunciation of the Putin regime by an insider.
I reviewed it in the Economist here.

 


Serhii Plokhy
“Lost Kingdom: The Quest for Empire and the Making of the Russian Nation”
(Hardcover – October 10, 2017)
Brilliant new take on Russian national identity and its tortured relationship with truth, and with neighbouring states.
By the best historian of Ukraine.

 


Serhii Plokhy
“The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine”
The definitive history of Ukraine. I reviewed it in the WSJ.

 


Mikhail Zygar
“All the Kremlin’s Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin”
Gripping insider account of Putin’s inner circle. Less good on the broader geopolitics.


Michael Stuermer
“Putin and the Rise of Russia”
I recommend this book only as an example of how not to write about Russia, and of what is wrong with the way
Germans tend to approach the subject. It prompted the most scathing review I have ever written, in Standpoint.