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Edward Lucas's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Edward Lucas recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Edward Lucas's favorite book recommendations of all time.

Americans call the Second World War “The Good War.” But before it even began, America’s wartime ally Josef Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens—and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was finally defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war’s end, both the German and the Soviet killing sites fell behind the iron curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness.
Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of a single...

Eric Weinstein[Eric Weinstein recommended this book on Twitter.] (Source)

Antony BeevorThis book is about…the Stalinist repression of the areas known as the borderlands, which Snyder has termed the bloodlands. Snyder is looking at the deliberate mass murder of civilians in a particular zone of Europe between about 1930, at the start of the second Ukraine famine, and 1945. (Source)

Edward LucasBloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin offers the best account of the most important and terrible years of the last century, when Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler jointly consigned the territories and people between their two empires to the meat-grinder. (Source)

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When the British journalist Rachel Polonsky moves to Moscow, she discovers an apartment on Romanov Street that was once home to the Soviet elite. One of the most infamous neighbors was the ruthless apparatchik Vyacheslav Molotov, a henchman for Stalin who was a participant in the collectivizations and the Great Purge—and also an ardent bibliophile. In what was formerly Molotov's apartment, Polonsky uncovers an extensive library and an old magic lantern—two things that lead her on an extraordinary journey throughout Russia and ultimately renew her vision of the country and its people.
Recommended by Francis Spufford, Edward Lucas, and 2 others.

Francis SpuffordIt is like, if you can imagine it, reading a wonderful series of lamp-lit oil painting interiors, so you feel like you are reading paintings. (Source)

Edward LucasBased on a chance discovery of Molotov’s library, Polonsky takes cultural allusions from Russian literary history and uses them to explain the present. (Source)

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The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low- level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.

Handpicked as a successor by the "family" surrounding an ailing and increasingly unpopular Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin seemed like a perfect choice for the oligarchy to shape according to its own designs. Suddenly the boy who had stood in the shadows, dreaming of ruling the world, was a public figure, and...
Recommended by Edward Lucas, and 1 others.

Edward LucasIt’s a very polemical portrait of Putin, a man whom she detests. I think she nails a lot about him. She really focuses in on Putin the man and inverts this common picture of a glamorous, decisive, tough guy to show that the reality is sordid, scary and in a way rather pathetic. (Source)

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This book gives a radically new reading of Russia's cultural history. Alexander Etkind traces how the Russian Empire conquered foreign territories and domesticated its own heartlands, thereby colonizing many peoples, Russians included. This vision of colonization as simultaneously internal and external, colonizing one's own people as well as others, is crucial for scholars of empire, colonialism and globalization.

Starting with the fur trade, which shaped its enormous territory, and ending with Russia's collapse in 1917, Etkind explores serfdom, the peasant commune, and other...
Recommended by Edward Lucas, and 1 others.

Edward LucasEtkind’s thesis is that Russia has had a unique model of development, which is that it colonised itself. Lots of European countries had empires, but they colonised other countries and territories across the world – sometimes with conspicuous brutality and other times with a civilising mission, and sometimes a mixture of the two. But in Russia’s case the colonisation started from the very earliest... (Source)

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In the tradition of John Reed's classic Ten Days That Shook the World, this bestselling account of the collapse of the Soviet Union combines the global vision of the best historical scholarship with the immediacy of eyewitness journalism. "A moving illumination . . . Remnick is the witness for us all." —Wall Street Journal. less
Recommended by Stephen Lucas, Edward Lucas, and 2 others.

Stephen LucasIf you’re not that interested in the intricacies of Soviet law but just want to know what it was like, this is what it was like. (Source)

Edward LucasTo understand the collapse of communism at first hand, the unrivalled account is the Pulitzer-prize winning Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. (Source)

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A History

The Gulag--a vast array of Soviet concentration camps that held millions of political and criminal prisoners--was a system of repression and punishment that terrorized the entire society, embodying the worst tendencies of Soviet communism. In this magisterial and acclaimed history, Anne Applebaum offers the first fully documented portrait of the Gulag, from its origins in the Russian Revolution, through its expansion under Stalin, to its collapse in the era of glasnost. Applebaum intimately re-creates what life was like in the camps and links them to the larger history of the Soviet Union.... more
Recommended by Edward Lucas, and 2 others.

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The raging question in the world today is who is the real Vladimir Putin and what are his intentions. Karen Dawisha's brilliant Putin's Kleptocracy provides an answer, describing how Putin got to power, the cabal he brought with him, the billions they have looted, and his plan to restore the Greater Russia.

Russian scholar Dawisha describes and exposes the origins of Putin's kleptocratic regime. She presents extensive new evidence about the Putin circle's use of public positions for personal gain even before Putin became president in 2000. She documents the establishment of...
Recommended by Marc Andreessen, Edward Lucas, and 2 others.

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The jagged peaks of the Caucasus Mountains have hosted a rich history of diverse nations, valuable trade, and incessant warfare. But today the region is best known for atrocities in Chechnya and the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.
In Let Our Fame Be Great, journalist and Russian expert Oliver Bullough explores the fascinating cultural crossroads of the Caucasus, where Europe, Asia, and the Middle East intersect. Traveling through its history, Bullough tracks down the nations dispersed by the region's last two hundred years of brutal warfare. Filled with a compelling mix of archival...
Recommended by Isabella Steger, Edward Lucas, and 2 others.

Isabella Stegercurrently reading @OliverBullough’s fab book “let our fame be great” about russia’s relentless, centuries-long campaign to suppress, deport, exterminate the muslim peoples of the caucasus. highly recommend for obvious parallels to today. (Source)

Edward LucasI think the Caucasus is Russia’s Achilles heel, really. It was the great triumph of the Tsarist empire getting the Caucasus. It was a great military feat trouncing these supposedly barbarian, wild mountain people. So it was celebrated in Russian literature and history as a great conquest. Then in the 1930s and 1940s it was the site of the extraordinary great deportation of the Chechen and Ingush... (Source)

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A veteran writer on Russia and the Soviet Union explains why Russia refuses to draw from the lessons of its past and what this portends for the future

Russia today is haunted by deeds that have not been examined and words that have been left unsaid. A serious attempt to understand the meaning of the Communist experience has not been undertaken, and millions of victims of Soviet Communism are all but forgotten. In this book David Satter, a former Moscow correspondent and longtime writer on Russia and the Soviet Union, presents a striking new interpretation of Russia's great...
Recommended by David Frum, Edward Lucas, and 2 others.

David FrumGreat book by @DavidSatter on the politics of Russian memory, with perfect title: "It was a long time ago, and it never happened anyway." (Source)

Edward LucasI think David Satter has really captured the role of the past in the present in Russia. He’s a very experienced correspondent from the Soviet era who has maintained his interest in post-Soviet Russia. He’s a really energetic, gumption reporter – he just goes to places that foreign correspondents don’t often go to in the provinces and follows up stories he first reported in the 1970s. Also, he’s... (Source)

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