100 books like Code Red

By Kyle Mills,

Here are 100 books that Code Red fans have personally recommended if you like Code Red. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Russia And The Russians

Keir Giles Author Of Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia to Confront the West

From my list on why Russia is the way it is.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professional explainer of Russia. For over 20 years I’ve been studying the country and trying to understand what makes it (and its leaders and people) so intent on attacking those around it and perceived adversaries further afield. That’s never been more important to understand than today when Ukraine and its soldiers are the only thing preventing Russia from once again rampaging across Europe. These books are ones that have helped me understand one part or several parts of the Russia problem, and I think they’ll be helpful for anybody else who wants to, too.

Keir's book list on why Russia is the way it is

Keir Giles Why did Keir love this book?

I found it hard to choose between several of Edward Crankshaw’s books explaining Russia. Each, in its own way, uncovers a particular aspect of history or society that makes the country what it is. In the end, I settled on this, his first: published in 1947, not long after Crankshaw had been posted to Moscow during WWII, and while he was still reeling from the vast gulf between what he experienced there and the image of the USSR that was being sold abroad. 

Crankshaw was sometimes accused of being too sympathetic to Russia, but while he does his best to explain why the country behaves as it does, he doesn’t seek to excuse it. For that reason I find this one of the most clear-headed appraisals of Russia. And given the continuities that run through all of Russian history, his rationalising of how Russia works and what it does is…

By Edward Crankshaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Russia And The Russians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the "public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank…


Book cover of Snowdrops

Keir Giles Author Of Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia to Confront the West

From my list on why Russia is the way it is.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professional explainer of Russia. For over 20 years I’ve been studying the country and trying to understand what makes it (and its leaders and people) so intent on attacking those around it and perceived adversaries further afield. That’s never been more important to understand than today when Ukraine and its soldiers are the only thing preventing Russia from once again rampaging across Europe. These books are ones that have helped me understand one part or several parts of the Russia problem, and I think they’ll be helpful for anybody else who wants to, too.

Keir's book list on why Russia is the way it is

Keir Giles Why did Keir love this book?

Russia in the 1990s was a strange place in a strange time, and Andrew Miller does a great job of capturing some of that strangeness in some of its more revolting extremes.

It’s fiction – supposedly - but the parallel world it describes will be instantly recognisable to anyone who was there or even brushed its edges. And if you weren’t, I think this is a better explanation of what happened than plenty of serious history books. And that, in turn, is essential for understanding where Russia is today – thirty years later, but with the echo of the mad years still shaping the country now. 

By Andrew Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Snowdrops as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2011

Snowdrops. That's what the Russians call them - the bodies that float up into the light in the thaw. Drunks, most of them, and homeless people who just give up and lie down into the whiteness, and murder victims hidden in the drifts by their killers.

Nick has a confession. When he worked as a high-flying British lawyer in Moscow, he was seduced by Masha, an enigmatic woman who led him through her city: the electric nightclubs and intimate dachas, the human kindnesses and state-wide corruption. Yet as Nick fell for Masha, he…


Book cover of Moscow Diary

Andreea Ritivoi Author Of Intimate Strangers: Arendt, Marcuse, Solzhenitsyn, and Said in American Political Discourse

From my list on memoirs about crossing cultures to find yourself.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Romania, a closed society during the Cold War, and I never expected to live anywhere else, especially not in the West. When communism ended, I rushed out of Eastern Europe for the first time, eager to find places and people I could only read about before. I also discovered the power longing and homesickness can have on defining our identities. I moved to the United States, where I now live and work, cherishing my nostalgia for the world I left behind, imperfect as it was. The books I read and write are always, in one way or another, about traveling across cultures and languages.

Andreea's book list on memoirs about crossing cultures to find yourself

Andreea Ritivoi Why did Andreea love this book?

Walter Benjamin was a Jewish German philosopher who escaped Nazi Germany only to commit suicide upon arrival in Spain.

This book captures an earlier time in his life, when he was still hopeful, an idealist in search of intellectual adventures and political transformation. He went to Moscow to define his political vision and found a city both seductive and elusive. The intense winter scenes in the deep Muscovite cold are unforgettable, even though he mentions them almost in passing.

Benjamin had another reason to go to Moscow: he was in love. But the woman he wished to pursue was also elusive, unavailable both in practical and emotional terms. The book speaks to the fascination Western leftist intellectuals have had with Russian culture and politics, turning to Russia as an alternative to a corrupt West.

Benjamin’s reflections about philosophy, history, and the Moscow of the 1920s makes me fantasize about our…

By Walter Benjamin, Gary Smith (editor), Richard Sieburth (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moscow Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The life of the German-Jewish literary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) is a veritable allegory of the life of letters in the twentieth century. Benjamin's intellectual odyssey culminated in his death by suicide on the Franco-Spanish border, pursued by the Nazis, but long before he had traveled to the Soviet Union. His stunning account of that journey is unique among Benjamin's writings for the frank, merciless way he struggles with his motives and conscience.

Perhaps the primary reason for his trip was his affection for Asja Lacis, a Latvian Bolshevik whom he had first met in Capri in 1924…


Book cover of The Russia House

Larry Enmon Author Of Class III Threat

From my list on spies from a retired secret service agent.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I always wanted to be a Secret Service agent. As an adult, I became one. The job introduced me to the classified and shadowy world of national security. I traveled the globe, working in places I'd only read about in novels and meeting people who seemed like well-written characters from a book. When I was assigned as a liaison agent to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, I attended numerous FBI and CIA schools—even the facility known as The Farm. But through it all, I read! When I retired and had time to think about what I did, I figured I'd try writing.

Larry's book list on spies from a retired secret service agent

Larry Enmon Why did Larry love this book?

During my time working in the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, we would "throw out a line to see if anything bit." By that, I mean we'd leak information into the terrorism community to see their response.

That response often determined which direction we'd take an investigation. That's what the plot of The Russia House does. The CIA and Britain's Secret Intelligence Service get a taste of information from an inside Russian military source, but can it be believed?

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Russia House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

John le Carre's first post-glasnost spy novel, The Russia House captures the effect of a slow and uncertain thaw on ordinary people and on the shadowy puppet-masters who command them

Barley Blair is not a Service man: he is a small-time publisher, a self-destructive soul whose only loves are whisky and jazz. But it was Barley who, one drunken night at a dacha in Peredelkino during the Moscow Book Fair, was befriended by a high-ranking Soviet scientist who could be the greatest asset to the West since perestroika began, and made a promise. Nearly a year later, his drunken promise…


Book cover of Wonder Confronts Certainty: Russian Writers on the Timeless Questions and Why Their Answers Matter

Matthew D. Luttig Author Of The Closed Partisan Mind: A New Psychology of American Polarization

From my list on open your mind reduce political polarization.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Associate Professor of political science at Colgate University. I grew up in a home with tremendous ideological diversity and rigorous political disputes, which caused my interest in learning more about why and how people become their political selves. This interest developed into an academic background in the field of political psychology, which uses psychological theories to understand the origins and nature of political attitudes. Out of this scholarship, I developed a theory about the relationship between closed minds and partisan polarization, which I examine in my book. Now I am looking for ways to create open minds and foster a less polarized community.

Matthew's book list on open your mind reduce political polarization

Matthew D. Luttig Why did Matthew love this book?

In this book, literary theorist Gary Saul Morson describes the competing ways in which Russian ideologues and novelists answered the “timeless questions” about human nature, fate, and politics. Morson’s analysis clearly shows that novelists and poets allow for much more complexity and nuance in their worldviews than ideologues. The famous Russian writers, in other words, appear to excel in the type of open-minded thinking that I argue is conducive to liberal democratic values.

By reading Morson’s book, one sees clearly the importance of Russia’s literary traditions and how their works inform an open-minded outlook on the timeless questions of human existence.

By Gary Saul Morson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wonder Confronts Certainty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A noted literary scholar traverses the Russian canon, exploring how realists, idealists, and revolutionaries debated good and evil, moral responsibility, and freedom.

Since the age of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Chekhov, Russian literature has posed questions about good and evil, moral responsibility, and human freedom with a clarity and intensity found nowhere else. In this wide-ranging meditation, Gary Saul Morson delineates intellectual debates that have coursed through two centuries of Russian writing, as the greatest thinkers of the empire and then the Soviet Union enchanted readers with their idealism, philosophical insight, and revolutionary fervor.

Morson describes the Russian literary tradition as…


Book cover of Holy Russia and Christian Europe: East and West in the Religious Ideology of Russia

Victor Roudometof Author Of Globalization and Orthodox Christianity: The Transformations of a Religious Tradition

From my list on a quick introduction to Orthodox Christianity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been a scholar of Orthodox Christianity for more than 20 years; & authored or (co-)edited several books. It took the fall of communism to overcome the relative poverty of Western literature & gain better knowledge of the Orthodox religious landscape. Personally, I am interested in the relationship between Orthodoxy and culture/politics. This relationship runs deep into the heart of several Orthodox nations – as the war in Ukraine aptly demonstrates. By the 21st century, Orthodox Christianity is no longer exclusively affiliated with its historical birthplace of Eastern and Southeastern Europe but there are millions of Orthodox Christians in North America and Western Europe.

Victor's book list on a quick introduction to Orthodox Christianity

Victor Roudometof Why did Victor love this book?

Νumerous books about the troubled relationship between Russia and the West. But it is extraordinarily challenging to manage to condense the history of a rich and varied relationship within a few hundred pages.

In this book, the author succeeds in covering several centuries of history and numerous complicated topics and subtopics within the span of fewer than 300 pages.

A splendid work precisely because it is concise, it covers the history of this relationship from Medieval times up to the modern era.

By William Van Den Bercken, John Bowden (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Holy Russia and Christian Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1997, the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer in Moscow was solemnly brought into use in the presence of Patriarch Aleksij and President Boris Yeltsin. It is a spectacular expression of the national religious revival of Russia and the expression in stone of a myth cherished by Russians down their history, that Moscow is the 'third Rome' and that Christianity and civilization have moved eastwards. At the same time, Russia has always formed part of the European cultural sphere.

The tensions between the 'myth of the East' and Russia as European form a fascinating story which is investigated here. The…


Book cover of Riot Days

Henry Virgin Author Of Exit Rostov

From my list on psychological enquiry in alternative formats.

Why am I passionate about this?

Certain books have the ability to inspire you or help you go beyond the boundaries of your understanding, to teach you something new or to show you how to look at things differently, to alter and enhance your perception. Each of these texts have encouraged and enchanted me, with hard-won truths. I appreciate the style of writing which draws you further and further into the author's psyche, and thus into your own, like deep diving into uncharted depths. Also, as someone who tries to write poetry and prose, I find each of these writers have a refreshing and interesting technique and method of communicating their thoughts and ideas.

Henry's book list on psychological enquiry in alternative formats

Henry Virgin Why did Henry love this book?

The book describes the performance, arrest, and prison term, of Maria Alyokhina, in deft, immediate, and succinct ‘beat’ style lingo, illustrated with her drawings. The text is refreshing on the open page, well spaced out. As one of the key members of Pussy Riot, her bravery shines out for her courageous activism which continues to this day. On 21 February 2012 the band performed their anti-Putin, anti-patriarchy Punk Prayer, called "Holy Shit", on the altar at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Critical of the relationship between the orthodox Church and Putin, with lines including “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, chase Putin out”, or “Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Be a feminist! Be a feminist!” the band managed to escape after the performance, but the video went viral, leading to their arrest and imprisonment. Testament to her punk character and iron resolve, the book describes the terrible prison conditions, and…

By Maria Alyokhina,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Riot Days as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From activist, Pussy Riot member and freedom fighter Maria Alyokhina, a raw, hallucinatory, passionate account of her arrest, trial and imprisonment in a penal colony in the Urals for standing up for what she believed in.

'One of the most brilliant and inspiring things I've read in years. Couldn't put it down. This book is freedom' Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick

'Reading: RIOT DAYS, by PussyRiot member MariaAlyokhina. A women's prison memoir like no other! One tough cookie!' @MargaretAtwood

'In oppressive political systems, some of the most effective weapons are sarcasm and dark humour. It is exactly these…


Book cover of The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories

Lee Polevoi Author Of The Confessions of Gabriel Ash

From my list on the Cold War told in the first person.

Why am I passionate about this?

I read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for the first time many years ago, while traveling aboard a Canadian National Railway train from Montreal to British Columbia. Something about the contrast between the majestic Canadian Rockies and the dark alleys of John Le Carré’s Berlin brought the Cold War fully to life and set me on the path to writing a novel of my own set during that time. (Living through some of those tense years of superpower stand-offs didn’t hurt.) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is told in third-person, but many Cold War novels written in the first person do a masterful job of evoking that troubled era. 

Lee's book list on the Cold War told in the first person

Lee Polevoi Why did Lee love this book?

This group of interconnected stories—set mostly in Russia and Chechnya—take place before, during, and after the Cold War. In the opening story, “The Leopard,” Anthony Marra perfectly captures the suffocating terror of life under Stalin. 

The narrator is a disillusioned Soviet censor whose job is editing images of disgraced victims of Stalinist show trials out of official photographs and despoiling many other works of art for propaganda purposes.

Lines between work and life start to blur. The censor finds it increasingly hard to discern fact from fiction.

Things turn deadly when he himself becomes a victim and the truth (as he knows it) becomes irrelevant in the struggle against counter-revolutionaries.

From these troubled origins the Cold War began. The ability to discern truth from falsehood seems in our present times more pressing than ever.

By Anthony Marra,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tsar of Love and Techno as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*** A Granta Best of Young American Novelists 2017 ***

The Tsar of Love and Techno begins in 1930s Leningrad, where a failed portrait artist employed by Soviet censors must erase political dissenters from official images and artworks. One day, he receives an antique painting of a dacha inside a box of images due to be altered. The mystery behind this painting threads together the stories that follow, which take us through a century and introduce a cast of characters including a Siberian beauty queen, a young soldier in the battlefields of Chechnya, the Head of the Grozny Tourist Bureau,…


Book cover of Invasion: Russia's Bloody War and Ukraine's Fight for Survival

Shane O'Rourke Author Of Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, Princess Isabel and the Ending of Servile Labour in Russia and Brazil

From my list on explaining Russia’s War against Ukraine.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am teacher of Russian History in the University of York and have been in both countries many times. Russia’s war against Ukraine is something that has touched me personally and professionally in the most profound way: witnessing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has been heartbreaking. Understanding why that war happened and what its consequences will be is of vital importance for anyone interested in the modern world, in justice, and the future of Europe. These books offer clear, passionate, and compelling accounts of the war, explaining the historical background, the immediate causes, the principle actors, and the Russian way of waging of the war.

Shane's book list on explaining Russia’s War against Ukraine

Shane O'Rourke Why did Shane love this book?

Luke Harding is a journalist who has spent many years as The Guardian correspondent in Ukraine including the present war.

The book is a mixture of historical analysis and on-the-spot reporting which makes it read like a thriller. It is vivid and at times harrowing, particularly the reports from Bucha after the massacres there. Harding pulls no punches, arguing the brutality of the war comes from Putin himself: ‘His apparent goal: the annihilation of a country, a culture and its citizens.’

Complicit in this genocidal operation are the Russian media elite who frequently openly call for the extermination of the Ukrainian nation. An excellent account from an impeccable source. 

By Luke Harding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invasion as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A FINALIST FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE FOR POLITICAL WRITING

The first book of reportage from the front line of the Ukraine war. This is a powerful, moving first draft of history written by the award-winning Guardian journalist and #1 New York Times bestselling author of Collusion and Shadow State.

'An excellent, moving account of an ongoing tragedy.' ANNE APPLEBAUM

'Compelling, important and heartbreaking.' SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE

'Essential reading.' ELIOT HIGGINS, founder of Bellingcat

'Brilliant.' ANDREY KURKOV

For months, the omens had pointed in one scarcely believable direction: Russia was about to invade Ukraine. And yet, the world was stunned by…


Book cover of Fathers and Sons

Roland Merullo Author Of Dessert with Buddha

From my list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My twenty novels tend to focus on characters who face great challenges, and I have a particular appreciation for beautiful prose. I don’t read for distraction or entertainment, but to be enlightened, moved, and made more compassionate about different kinds of people in different environments.

Roland's book list on thoughtful works of fiction and non-fiction

Roland Merullo Why did Roland love this book?

I speak Russian and spent several years working in the former USSR on cultural exchange exhibitions. I majored in Russian Language and Literature at Brown and have a Master’s in those subjects, also from Brown, and I love Turgenev even more than I love his great contemporaries, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

In this short novel, Turgenev speaks to political differences across generations, something pertinent to the American political scene now and to the tension between activism and domestic life. 

As a novelist, I’m also blown away by his ability to put so much into a very short piece of fiction. It’s helpful, but not essential, to have a bit of knowledge about pre-Revolutionary Russia, but like his masterful Sportsman’s Sketches, he is a genius at bringing characters, both real and imagined, to life.

By Ivan Turgenev, Peter Carson (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fathers and Sons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ivan Turgenev's Fathers and Sons explores the ageless conflict between generations through a period in Russian history when a new generation of revolutionary intellectuals threatened the state. This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Russian by Peter Carson, with an introduction by Rosamund Bartlett and an afterword by Tatyana Tolstaya.

Returning home after years away at university, Arkady is proud to introduce his clever friend Bazarov to his father and uncle. But their guest soon stirs up unrest on the quiet country estate - his outspoken nihilist views and his scathing criticisms of the older men expose the growing…


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