Russian president Vladimir Putin has enjoyed the British government’s “quiet complicity” in a “covert killing campaign” against his exiled enemies and their associates, according to this sensationalistic account by BuzzFeed News editor Blake (The Ugly Game). At the center of her tale are Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky and his Scottish “bagman,” Scot Young. Berezovsky, who sought political asylum in England after helping to bring Putin to power, was found hanged in March 2013. Less than two years later, Young’s body was discovered impaled on a fence beneath his London apartment. Investigators ruled out foul play in both cases, but Blake suggests that the two men were killed in retaliation for their involvement in a Moscow real estate deal. Citing unnamed U.S. intelligence sources, she identifies 12 other “suspicious” deaths from the past 15 years, alleging that authorities prematurely closed these cases in order to keep Russian money flowing into the U.K. Though Blake claims to have gathered “hundreds of boxes of documents” and a “huge cache of digital files,” she doesn’t cite any specific evidence to explain how these alleged assassinations were carried out. Readers will have to set their skepticism aside in order to enjoy this cinematic ride. (Nov.)
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"[Blake's] gripping descriptions of intrigue and violence brim with details about the grotesque lifestyles of the über-rich."
New York Times Book Review
"A compelling rendering of Putin's frightening extensions of power into Europe and the United States." Associated Press
"A well-written and well-researched book that reads like a thriller."Washington Times
"The author's brave foray into this dangerous scenario is the reason much of this information is known. She covers the entire trail, including details on how enemies of the
Kremlin end up missing or dead. . . . Fans of Blake's work, along with readers curious about spymasters across the globe and the ways in which Russia tries to infiltrate other governments, will be astonished at the level of detail provided here." Library Journal, starred review
"Demonstrating a keen understanding of the art of espionage, Blake describes the Kremlin's ruthless attacks on its enemies both inside Russia and in the UK, skillfully unravelling a trail of assassinations and political intrigue. Exceptional attention to detail, superbly written, a must read for citizens and policymakers alike."DanielHoffman, former CIA Station Chief
"With groundbreaking reporting, riveting stories, and layers of intrigue, From Russia With Blood unravels Vladimir Putin's web of violence and intimidation, and adds essential detail to our understanding of the lengths the Russian government will go to silence its critics "
Ben Rhodes, author of the New York Times bestseller The World As It Is
"I could not put it down. It is a compelling read from start to finish and a brilliant piece of investigative journalism. This is state sponsored murder on an industrial scale, and it took brave journalists to piece together the jigsaw and tell the world. The detail in the book is extraordinary, the individual events thrilling. This book is a must read."ChrisPhillips, former head of the British government's National Counter TerrorismSecurity Office
"A spellbinding and heart-in-your-throat true story of Russian money and serial killing by agents of the Russian state in London. Heidi Blake peels the onion and makes a damning case that the British government allowed and covered up multiple murders to keep Russian money flowing into London. In addition to be an unputdownable story, her shocking expose will hopefully change the way the British authorities act on crimes emanating from Russia in the future."Bill Browder, author of Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice
"A real life thriller,
packed with characters that even John le Carré couldn't dream of. If this doesn't scare you, then you're not paying attention."Oliver Bullough, author of Moneyland and The Last Man In Russia
"Heidi Blake's riveting, exhaustively researched account of suspected Kremlin murders on British soil reminds us that tangling with Vladimir Putin, no matter where, can be a deadly game."Amy Knight, author of Putin's Killers: The Kremlin and the Art of Political Assassination
"Brilliantly and bravely researched, this book lays bare the brutal and murderous truth that lies at the core of Putin's Russia."Jon Snow, Channel 4
"Who needs spy novels with journalism like this? Heidi Blake's stunning expose keeps you quickly turning pages as it shocks you into greater awareness of the criminality of Putin's regime and the human costs of ignoring it. A
must-read for Russia watchers, and everyone else."Elisabeth Elo, authorof Finding Katrina M. and North Boston
"From Russia With Blood brings to life the audacity with which Putin has carried out his new form of warfare in the very capitals of the west. The research and conclusions are solid - and the story is scary."General PhilipBreedlove, former NATO commander
"Mysterious deaths, exotic poisons, a global assassination campaign, coverups at the highest level-and it's all real life, not Hollywood ... Rigorously reported ... Essential."-Garry Kasparov, author of Winter is Coming
"The story of the corruption spreading from the Kremlin to the streets of Britain. Heidi's account reads like a novel, many of the stories are so extraordinary, the tragedy is that this is fact not fiction. This book is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the real threats facing our country today."Tom Tugendhtat MP,chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee
Investigative journalist Blake (coauthor, The Ugly Game) sheds insight into former spies in Russia and England, who die mysteriously in various countries, including the United States. Blake, a London-based Global Investigative editor for BuzzFeed News, noticed these strange deaths in England, and began her own inquiries. The impetus was when former double agent Sergei Skripal came down with a mysterious illness in 2018 that nearly killed him and his daughter. Blake explains how Skripal's poisoning from a nerve agent planted by Russian nationals was the first chemical weapons attack in Europe since World War II. The author's brave foray into this dangerous scenario is the reason much of this information is known. She covers the entire trail, including details on how enemies of the Kremlin end up missing or dead; much insight was gained through firsthand interviews with subjects involved. VERDICT Fans of Blake's work, along with readers curious about spymasters across the globe and the ways in which Russia tries to infiltrate other governments, will be astonished at the level of detail provided here.—Jason L. Steagall, Arapahoe Libs., Centennial, Colorado
The global investigations editor at BuzzFeed News examines "Kremlin-sanctioned killing around the world."
British journalist Blake (co-author: The Ugly Game: The Corruption of FIFA and the Qatari Plot To Buy the World Cup, 2015) builds on a June 2017 BuzzFeed News exposé to delineate how Vladimir Putin and his Russian assassins have murdered political opponents over the years. Some of the killings occurred within Russia, but the author focuses on the assassinations of dissidents who escaped from Russia to the U.K. To a lesser extent, Blake also discusses those who fled to the United States. To assist readers in understanding the context of each death, Blake provides detailed explanations of why world leaders—including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—believed Putin might liberalize Russian society and become an ally of democratic nations. That severe misreading led the British and U.S. leaders to deemphasize the significance of the assassinations ordered by Putin. Along with her BuzzFeed colleagues, Blake accuses the British and U.S. governments of coverups, which have taken various forms—e.g., labeling murders as suicides, withholding gory details of the deaths, and conducting desultory law enforcement inquiries so that journalists would feel discouraged about publishing information that might agitate their readers. Blake explores the highly publicized murder of Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya, but that case is an outlier in a narrative filled with foreshadowing about which dissident will be killed next. As the author shows, the 2006 death of Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko not only eliminated a high-profile Putin opponent; it also showed "Putin to be just as brutal as his critics claimed, and finally the world was listening." The most thoroughly documented case is the death of Boris Berezovsky, a wealthy Russian exile who delighted in taunting Putin from afar. Though well-researched, the narrative sometimes bogs down in the author's discussions of Russian and British politics. When Blake focuses on the circumstances surrounding the murders, the narrative moves more smoothly.
An uneven but still useful documentation of the disturbing reach of a dangerous world leader.