Anticipating a new dawn of freedom after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russians could hardly have foreseen the reality of their future a decade later: a country impoverished and controlled at every level by organized crime. This riveting book views the 1990s reform period through the experiences of individual citizens, revealing the changes that have swept Russia and their effect on Russia’s age-old ways of thinking.
“The Russia that Satter depicts in this brave, engaging book cannot be ignored. Darkness at Dawn should be required reading for anyone interested in the post-Soviet state.”—Christian Caryl, Newsweek
“Satter must be commended for saying what a great many people only dare to think.”—Matthew Brzezinski, Toronto Globe and Mail
“Humane and articulate.”—Raymond Asquith, Spectator
“Vivid, impeccably researched and truly frightening. . . . Western policy-makers, especially in Washington, would do well to study these pages.”—Martin Sieff, United Press International
Satter puts the human exclamation point on Goldman's argument. With a reporter's eye for vivid detail and a novelist's ability to capture emotion, he conveys the drama of Russia's rocky road for the average victimized Russian. There is the mother of a sailor doomed on the Kursk submarine; the aunt of a murdered woman stonewalled by local police too indifferent to investigate; a woman trying to salvage a life's savings sunk in a collapsing pyramid scheme; and a surgeon frantically (and unsuccessfully) trying to save a patient's life when the power goes off in the operating room because the local electric company has shut it down. True, this is only half of the story of what is happening in Russia these days, but it is the shattering half, and Satter renders it all the more poignant by making it so human.
Nearly all of the books written about Russia in the past ten years, such as Lilia Shevtsova's Putin's Russia and David E.Hoffman's The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia, have indicted the criminal element in Russian politics and society, which seemingly cast lots for the country's lucrative state-owned industries. Satter (Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union), a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and visiting lecturer at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, is the first author to name the causes of rampant criminality and name names beyond the well-documented oligarchs. His book contains much anecdotal evidence of the experiences of present-day Russians to back up his thesis that contemporary Russia skipped the moral lessons of capitalism (antitrust legislation, strong labor unions, etc.) and went directly to the mechanics of transformation to capitalism. According to Satter's bracing analysis, three factors doom Russia to chaos in the future: economic collapse is likely because world oil prices determine the economic destiny of Russia, Putin has set in place an easy road to dictatorship, and severe depopulation from the collapse of the human services sector will soon leave Russia with blank spaces to be occupied by neighbors. The text is nonacademic and offers many emotional stories. Recommended for public libraries.-Harry Willems, Southeast Kansas Lib. Syst., Iola Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
David Satter, former Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times of London, is affiliated with the Hoover Institution, the Hudson Institute, and the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is the author of Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union, also available from Yale University Press.