WINNER OF THE ORWELL PRIZE 2016How did a country that liberated itself from seventy years of Soviet rule end up as one of the biggest threats to the West and, above all, to its own future? Why did the people who rejected Communist ideology come to accept state propaganda? In this bold and important book, Arkady Ostrovsky takes the reader on an enthralling journey through Russia's tumultuous post-Soviet transformation and illuminates the key turning points that often took the world by surprise. As a foreign correspondent in his own country, Ostrovsky has experienced Russia's modern history first-hand, and through original research and interviews he reveals the ideological conflicts, compromises and temptations that have left Russia on a knife-edge.
Ostrovsky has written a real insiders' story of Russia's post-Soviet counter-revolution - an important and timely book. * Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag and Iron Curtain * How post-Soviet Russia got from there to here makes a gripping story, told here brilliantly by a writer who watched it unfolding. -- Tom Stoppard A vivid account of the evolution of modern Russia... Ostrovsky shows how the liberal dreams of the Gorbachev era gave way to the authoritarian nationalism of the Putin period. -- Gideon Rachman * 'Books of the Year', Financial Times * Moving and brilliantly detailed -- Rachel Polonsky * 'Books of the Year', TLS * Essential, timely, and always gripping, Arkady Ostrovsky's book explains today's reinvention of Russia, from the fall of the USSR to the rise of Putin, by chronicling the power, the money and the media with the nuanced analysis of a Moscow veteran and the narrative flair of a true chronicler of the mysteries of the Kremlin. * Simon Sebag Montefiore, author Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar * For a decade Arkady Ostrovsky has been the most insightful foreign correspondent in Moscow, and in The Invention of Russia he uses his deep understanding of the country he loves to tell the gripping, tragic story of its recent history. A brilliantly original, illuminating and essential book. * A. D. Miller, Booker-shortlisted author of Snowdrops & The Faithful Couple * Russia has always been a place where intellectuals, propagandists, viziers and prophets have played a grand role. All the gangster, KGB and oligarch focused analyses of the country's recent history have overlooked the men of ideas behind the tumultuous changes. Now comes Arkady Ostrovsky, with a detailed, gripping intellectual history of the newspaper editors, ideologues, television gurus and spin doctors who invented post-Soviet Russia . * Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible * Russia's surprisingly free media were once a powerful instrument of reform. In his illuminating and saddening account, Arkady Ostrovsky tells how all but a very few have turned instead - deliberately, cynically, and on behalf of the state - to creating the distorted image of reality which shapes the country today. * Sir Rodric Braithwaite, former British Ambassador to Russia and the USSR * Arkady Ostrovsky's dazzling book flags up the conflicts over ideas, morality and national destiny in Moscow politics from Gorbachev to Putin - a triumph of narrative skill and historical empathy based on personal experience and rigorous research. * Robert Service * For many Russians and most foreign observers the defeat of the coup against Gorbachev in the summer of 1991 seemed to herald an age in which liberty would triumph in Russia and the country would join the Western community of peoples. The turn to authoritarian nationalism at home and confrontation with the West is a source of dismay and even despair. Arkady Ostrovsky traces the descent from the heady days of 1991 with deep local knowledge, a journalist's fluent style and sharp eye for detail, and wit. He places much of the blame on those who owned and dominated the media in the fifteen years after the fall of the Soviet Union. * Dominic Lieven, author of Towards the Flame and Russia Against Napoleon * I was gripped by Arkady Ostrovsky's book. This is essential reading for anyone wishing to be more precisely informed about Russia today. * Ralph Fiennes * Compelling... Expertly told, with an eye for colourful detail and interesting personalities, Ostrovsky fashions a strong argument * The Tablet * A focused, bracing look at how the control of the media has helped plot the Russian political trajectory from dictatorship and back again... Astute, accessible, illuminating * Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) * Fast-paced and excellently written... A much needed, dispassionate and eminently readable explanation * New York Times * The reader feels as if on a grand tour, with Ostrovsky at the elbow. . . He is particularly good at hearing the nuances and seeing how identity, ideology and personal experience undermined hopes for democracy and reform. * Washington Post * How did Putinism come to pervade the psyche of the nation?... Ostrovsky's sparkling prose and deep analysis provide not only a sweeping tour d'horizon of Russia's malaise, but also a description of the process by which anti-modern ideas combine with postmodern actions to buttress the country's authoritarian kleptocratic system. * Wall Street Journal *