Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin's Russia (Paperback)

Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin's Russia By Joshua Yaffa Cover Image
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WINNER OF THE ORWELL PRIZE • NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS CHOICE • “Unforgettable . . . a book about Putin’s Russia that is unlike any other.”—Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Empire of Pain

From a Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker, a groundbreaking portrait of modern Russia and the inner struggles of the people who sustain Vladimir Putin’s rule
 
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—NPR, Kirkus Reviews

In this rich and novelistic tour of contemporary Russia, Joshua Yaffa introduces readers to some of the country’s most remarkable figures—from politicians and entrepreneurs to artists and historians—who have built their careers and constructed their identities in the shadow of the Putin system. Torn between their own ambitions and the omnipresent demands of the state, each walks an individual path of compromise. Some muster cunning and cynicism to extract all manner of benefits and privileges from those in power. Others, finding themselves to be less adept, are left broken and demoralized. What binds them together is the tangled web of dilemmas and contradictions they face.
 
Between Two Fires chronicles the lives of a number of strivers who understand that their dreams are best—or only—realized through varying degrees of cooperation with the Russian government. With sensitivity and depth, Yaffa profiles the director of the country’s main television channel, an Orthodox priest at war with the church hierarchy, a Chechen humanitarian who turns a blind eye to persecutions, and many others. The result is an intimate and probing portrait of a nation that is much discussed yet little understood. By showing how citizens shape their lives around the demands of a capricious and frequently repressive state—as often by choice as under threat of force—Yaffa offers urgent lessons about the true nature of modern authoritarianism.

Praise for Between Two Fires

“A deep and revealing portrait of life inside Vladimir Putin’s Russia. . . . Yaffa mines a rich vein, describing his subjects’ moral compromises and often ingenious ways of engaging a crooked bureaucracy to show how the Kremlin sustains its authoritarianism.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Few journalists have penetrated so deep and with so much nuance into the moral ambiguities of Russia. If you want insight into the deeper distortions the Kremlin causes in people’s psyches this book is invaluable.”—Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible
 
“A stunning chronicle of Putin’s new Russia . . . It celebrates the vitality of the Russian people even as it explores the compromises and accommodations that they must make. . . . This embrace of contradictions is what makes Between Two Fires such a poignant and poetic book.”—Alex Gibney, Air Mail

About the Author


Joshua Yaffa is a correspondent for The New Yorker in Moscow. For his work in Russia, he has been named a fellow at New America, a recipient of the American Academy’s Berlin Prize, and a finalist for the Livingston Award.

Praise For…


“A wonderfully insightful book . . . It is to Mr Yaffa’s credit that in general he avoids simplifying. Even when he describes people who seek cynical advantage from the powerful, the picture is never completely dark; when he portrays moral heroes, he never presents them as infallible. That is how things are in life, perhaps nowhere more so than in Russia.”The Economist

“A deeply reported account of what it's like to live in Putin's Russia, but it's not about Twitter bots or influencing foreign elections or even Vladimir Putin himself. . . . Yaffa gives us insight into Putin by helping us better understand the political culture that produced him.”—NPR
 
“Superb . . . [An] excellent new book. . . . Yaffa has distinguished himself with his rigor, his acumen, and his nuanced voice. . . . His in-depth reporting consistently allows him to move beyond the headlines, revealing the deeper historical and sociological patterns that underpin that notoriously contradictory country.”Foreign Affairs

“Yaffa skilfully weaves together perceptive descriptions of flesh-and-blood people with a balanced evocation of the wider political and historical context. Yaffa has a good eye for colourful detail . . . and he proves attentive to the subtleties and ambiguities of Russian life.”—Tony Wood, Financial Times

“A fascinating and nuanced account that illuminates the myriad conflicting and often contradictory forces that have shaped the Russia of today.”—Douglas Smith, The Wall Street Journal

“[A] highly original and riveting account . . . Good and not-so-good men and women are forced to make difficult choices—and Joshua Yaffa’s remarkable book is a guide to the pain and pleasure of their lives in the public arena.”—Robert Service, Foreign Policy

“Deeply reported and detailed . . . A fascinating exploration into the beliefs and psyches of Russians in many different career fields who reveal their souls to Yaffa, often to a surprising degree but with little apparent fear of reprisal.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Between Two Fires stands a rank above most publications of its genre because of its effective shoe-leather reporting. Not content with analyzing media coverage or online debates, Yaffa has sought out and interviewed both his central characters and their friends, enemies, and former supporters.”—Greg Afinogenov, Bookforum

Between Two Fires is a study of compromise, opportunism, and the fraught moral choices available in Putin’s Russia.”—Anne Applebaum, author of Red Famine and Gulag

“In Between Two Fires, Joshua Yaffa brilliantly captures the complex choices and compromises that Russians make to survive, thrive, or remain true to their principles in Putin’s Russia.”—Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and author of From Cold War to Hot Peace
Product Details
ISBN: 9781524760601
ISBN-10: 1524760609
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: May 4th, 2021
Pages: 384
Language: English

How to read more

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How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.

 

And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.

 

15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.

 

50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.

 

Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.

 

Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.

 

Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.

 

Outcome

Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.

 
 
 

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