The B&N Podcast: Masha Gessen

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper. The Barnes & Noble Podcast goes between the lines with today’s most interesting writers, exploring what inspires them, what confounds them, and what they were thinking when they wrote the books we’re talking about.

Perhaps no writer is better suited to help us grapple with the tumultuous and unexpected recent history of Russia — a history that has enormous impact on the rest of the world — than the journalist and author Masha Gessen. Her new book, The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia is, in the words of reviewer Liesl Schillinger, a “magisterial, panoramic” look at the end of one era and the beginning of another, and the effect of decades of trauma on a nation. With her book just named a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award for Nonfiction, Masha Gessen joins Bill Tipper on the podcast for a deep dive into a society that many Americans are fascinated by — but which few of us understand.

Vladimir Putin’s bestselling biographer reveals how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible new strain of autocracy.

Hailed for her “fearless indictment of the most powerful man in Russia” (The Wall Street Journal), award-winning journalist Masha Gessen is unparalleled in her understanding of the events and forces that have wracked her native country in recent times. In The Future Is History, she follows the lives of four people born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. Each of them came of age with unprecedented expectations, some as the children and grandchildren of the very architects of the new Russia, each with newfound aspirations of their own—as entrepreneurs, activists, thinkers, and writers, sexual and social beings.

Gessen charts their paths against the machinations of the regime that would crush them all, and against the war it waged on understanding itself, which ensured the unobstructed reemergence of the old Soviet order in the form of today’s terrifying and seemingly unstoppable mafia state. Powerful and urgent, The Future Is History is a cautionary tale for our time and for all time.

A Finalist for the 2017 National Book Award in Nonfiction

Click here to see all books by Masha Gessen.

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Author photo (c) Tanya Sazansky.