100 books like Godfather of the Kremlin

By Paul Klennikov,

Here are 100 books that Godfather of the Kremlin fans have personally recommended if you like Godfather of the Kremlin. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?

David Satter Author Of The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia's Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin

From my list on contemporary Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Satter is a leading commentator on Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of five books on Russia and the creator of a documentary film on the fall of the U.S.S.R. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. He has been a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, and an associate of the Henry Jackson Society in London.

David's book list on contemporary Russia

David Satter Why did David love this book?

The late Karen Dawisha offers the best account so far of Putin's early career and the connections and corruption that paved his path to power. Her historical examples of Putin's greed and connections with organized crime shed important light on the way Russia is ruled today.

By Karen Dawisha,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Putin's Kleptocracy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 Bank Rossiya, now sanctioned by the US; the…


Book cover of The Moscow Bombings of September 1999: Examinations of Russian Terrorist Attacks at the Onset of Vladimir Putin's Rule

David Satter Author Of The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia's Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin

From my list on contemporary Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Satter is a leading commentator on Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of five books on Russia and the creator of a documentary film on the fall of the U.S.S.R. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. He has been a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, and an associate of the Henry Jackson Society in London.

David's book list on contemporary Russia

David Satter Why did David love this book?

The Russian apartment bombings of 1999 consolidated the criminal system put in place by Russian president Boris Yeltsin and created the conditions for Vladimir Putin to take power. In this book, Dunlop describes in meticulous detail the story of the bombings and shows that they were carried out by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) which means that they rank as the greatest political provocation since the burning of the Reichstag.

By John B. Dunlop,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moscow Bombings of September 1999 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The five chapters of this volume focus on the complex and tumultuous events occurring in Russia during the five months from May through September 1999. They sparked the Russian invasion of Chechnya on 1 October and vaulted a previously unknown former KGB agent into the post of Russian prime minister and, ultimately, president. The five chapters are devoted to: * The intense political struggle taking place in Russia between May and August of 1999, culminating in an incursion by armed Islamic separatists into the Republic of Dagestan.* Two Moscow terrorist bombings of 9 and 13 September 1999, claiming the lives…


Book cover of 57 Hours: A Survivor's Account of the Moscow Hostage Drama

David Satter Author Of The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia's Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin

From my list on contemporary Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Satter is a leading commentator on Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of five books on Russia and the creator of a documentary film on the fall of the U.S.S.R. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. He has been a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, and an associate of the Henry Jackson Society in London.

David's book list on contemporary Russia

David Satter Why did David love this book?

Vesselin Nedkov was in Moscow on a business trip when he decided to buy a ticket to the Broadway style musical Nord-Ost, which was being shown at the Theater on Dubrovka. This book is his harrowing account of the ordeal as the theater and its thousand visitors were seized by armed terrorists and held for 57 hours before being "liberated" by the Russian special forces who attacked the theater with lethal gas. Rich in detail, his book also raises the many unanswered questions about the massive loss of innocent life. 

By Paul Wilson, Vesselin Nedkov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 57 Hours as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To celebrate the last night of a business trip in Moscow, Canadian resident Vesselin Nedkov and a friend picked up two tickets to the hottest musical in town. Halfway through the show, his life was changed forever. 57 Hours is Nedkov's harrowing account of being trapped between two immovable and unpredictable forces: inside the theatre, suicidal Chechen rebels, loaded with explosives, demanded an end to the bloody civil war that was ravaging Chechnya; outside, Russian special forces prepared to storm the theatre, refusing to negotiate with the rebels. Through fifty-seven hours of fear and fatigue, Nedkov discovered courage and ingenuity…


Book cover of Post-Soviet Russia: A Journey Through the Yeltsin Era

David Satter Author Of The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia's Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin

From my list on contemporary Russia.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Satter is a leading commentator on Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is the author of five books on Russia and the creator of a documentary film on the fall of the U.S.S.R. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. He has been a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, and an associate of the Henry Jackson Society in London.

David's book list on contemporary Russia

David Satter Why did David love this book?

Russian historian Roy Medvedev, who has written classic works on Stalinism, recounts in this detailed and highly informed book the true consequences for Russia of Yeltsin era "shock therapy," including the impoverishment of the people, the destruction of the nation's health, and the rise of a criminal business oligarchy which in the words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn was totally indifferent to the Russian people or "even if they survived at all."

By Roy A. Medvedev,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Roy Medvedev, one of the world's best-known Russian scholars and a former consultant to both Gorbachev and Yeltsin analyzes the main events that have transpired in the Russian federation since late August 1991. He looks at the plans that were meant to restructure a society in crisis but-for reasons both complex and obvious-were destined to fail. From the drastic liberalization of prices and "shock therapy" to the privatization of state owned property and Yeltsin's resignation and replacement by Vladimir Putin, this is an intricately fascinating saga of good intentions, philosophical warfare, and catastrophic miscalculations. Among the many compelling facts detailed…


Book cover of Russia Resurrected: Its Power and Purpose in a New Global Order

Andrei P. Tsygankov Author Of Russia's Foreign Policy: Change and Continuity in National Identity

From my list on Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Russian academic living in the West and a contributor to both Western and Russian academia. I move between the two and try to build bridges by explaining the two sides’ differences and areas of potential cooperation. I do it in my teaching and research on international politics, which I understand through the lens of culture and politics. Most of my books analyze Russian and Western patterns of thinking formed through history and interaction with each other. I love reading good books about these topics and hope you enjoy my selected list!

Andrei's book list on Russia’s foreign policy after the Cold War

Andrei P. Tsygankov Why did Andrei love this book?

Russia remains a formidable power in international relations. While some in the West tend to dismiss Russia’s global capabilities, this book describes the country as a “good enough” power. It has a comprehensive review of Russia’s symmetrical and asymmetric capabilities including military, economic, geographic, and others. The author demonstrates that despite some shortcomings, Russia remains capable to challenge the West and its preferred international order and institutions. 

By Kathryn E. Stoner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An assessment of Russia that suggests that we should look beyond traditional means of power to understand its strength and capacity to disrupt international politics.

Too often, we are told that Russia plays a weak hand well. But, perhaps the nations cards are better than we know. Russia ranks significantly behind the US and China by traditional measures of power: GDP, population size and health, and military might. Yet 25 years removed from its mid-1990s nadir following the collapse of the USSR, Russia has become a supremely disruptive force in world politics. Kathryn E. Stoner assesses the resurrection of Russia…


Book cover of I Was a Potato Oligarch: Travels and Travails in the New Russia

Golda Mowe Author Of Iban Journey

From my list on to experience life-changing adventures.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with travel and adventure stories since I read The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I finished a whole Walter Scott book; with a dictionary balanced on one knee because Jeanie Deans decides to walk from Edinburgh to London. Romance? Bah! Humbug! I’d rather journey into The Heart of Darkness, follow the hobbits to Mount Doom, or ride a sandworm with Paul Atreides. Show me a lone traveler thrown into the middle of an unfamiliar, confusing culture and you have my full attention. Naturally, when I started typing out my first manuscript, it just had to be a fantasy adventure about an Iban headhunter.

Golda's book list on to experience life-changing adventures

Golda Mowe Why did Golda love this book?

John Mole tells his stories the same way an Iban man would when he returns from a particularly harrowing work travel. I personally think that the memoir is a tragedy disguised as a comedy because some parts of his description of life in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union made my stomach cramp with emotion. At the same time, they also made me laugh because his imageries are so comical. His first-world naiveté either gets him scammed or rescued, but his survival instincts always kick in when it matters. So, if you are interested in a modern Wild-Wild-West adventure, this is the book for you.

By John Mole,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Was a Potato Oligarch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In a charming saga of sun, sea, sand - and cement - John Mole tells of the back-breaking but joyous labours of fixing up his own Arcadia and introduces a warm, generous and garrulous cast of characters who helped (and occasionally hindered) his progress.


Book cover of The Russian Economy: A Very Short Introduction

Andrew Monaghan Author Of Russian Grand Strategy in the Era of Global Power Competition

From my list on Russia and why the Kremlin does what it's doing.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by different cultures. I started to learn Russian in 1998, and intrigued by the language, I began to study Russia more—delving into history and politics and then doing a PhD in Russian foreign policy. Ever since, trying to learn about and understand Russia has been my professional focus. Alongside books in Russian, these books are all to hand on my reference shelf, well-thumbed and marked up, as I try to write my own work. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have! 

Andrew's book list on Russia and why the Kremlin does what it's doing

Andrew Monaghan Why did Andrew love this book?

The strength and resilienceor notof the Russian economy is one of the most important questions in international affairs since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022: policymakers and observers alike are asking what effects the wide-ranging sanctions are having, and whether the Russian economy will implode, thwarting Moscow’s aggression. I’m not an economist so I need help understanding this, and I found this book to be the best introduction to this complex and difficult subject. Connolly also wrote a fine book on the impact of sanctions on Russia since 2014, but I think this one gives a concise and accessible assessment of the Russian economy as a whole, the role of the state, and Moscow’s attempted diversification of economic partners and integration into the global economy.

By Richard Connolly,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Russia today is as prominent in international affairs as it was at the height of the Cold War. Yet the role that the economy plays in supporting Russia's position as a 'great power' on the international stage is poorly understood. For many, Russia's political influence far exceeds its weight in the global economy. However, Russia is one of the largest economies in the world; it is not only one of the world's most important exporters of oil and gas, but also of other
natural resources, such as diamonds and gold. Its status as one of the largest wheat and grain…


Book cover of Modernization from the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development

John Philipp Baesler Author Of Clearer Than Truth: The Polygraph and the American Cold War

From my list on Russia in Western eyes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in West Germany, surrounded by American soldiers and with a father who had escaped communist East Germany, the Cold War always fascinated me. What was it about? Would it ever end? When it did, it took everybody by surprise. This lesson, that nothing is certain and that history can always make a turn when you least expect it, stayed with me as I pursued my degrees in history, first in Heidelberg and then at Indiana University Bloomington. As an immigrant to the United States, I study the United States from the outside and the inside. How Americans see themselves, and how they see others, is my main interest that I keep exploring from different angles.

John's book list on Russia in Western eyes

John Philipp Baesler Why did John love this book?

American observers were endlessly fascinated by Russia long before the Cold War began and before supposed Russian election interference became a news item. However, they could never make up their minds about what made the Russian people tick. In this eye-opening book, David Engerman shows how American journalists, diplomats, and social scientists romanticized and ridiculed Russian peasants, praised or condemned the attempts by the Tsar and the Bolsheviks to modernize Russia by force, and marbled at the Russian “national character.” Engerman in a masterly fashion reveals how prejudices have shaped American views of Russia.

By David C. Engerman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Modernization from the Other Shore as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the late nineteenth century to the eve of World War II, America's experts on Russia watched as Russia and the Soviet Union embarked on a course of rapid industrialization. Captivated by the idea of modernization, diplomats, journalists, and scholars across the political spectrum rationalized the enormous human cost of this path to progress. In a fascinating examination of this crucial era, David Engerman underscores the key role economic development played in America's understanding of Russia and explores its profound effects on U.S. policy.

American intellectuals from George Kennan to Samuel Harper to Calvin Hoover understood Russian events in terms…


Book cover of Tragic Spirits: Shamanism, Memory, and Gender in Contemporary Mongolia

Oyungerel Tsedevdamba Author Of The Green Eyed Lama

From my list on banned or forbidden stories to be told.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a Mongolian woman deeply interested and engaged in politics, human rights and history. Until I reached 25, my country was a communist state and I wasn't allowed to learn many things including foreign language other than Russian. Life, school, and books surrounding me had not only legal but also very strong ideological restrictions dictated by communism. As the most attractive melodies were ‘banned music’ and most beautiful love songs were ‘banned songs’, I grew up hungry to learn the true stories hidden behind all the bans. Later, I decided to write historic fiction on the important stories that were not taught to us in schools but necessary for Mongolians and the world to understand. 

Oyungerel's book list on banned or forbidden stories to be told

Oyungerel Tsedevdamba Why did Oyungerel love this book?

Many people became shamans. Suddenly. Was it related to democracy and freedom and the end of cultural censorship in Mongolia, or was it related to the growing magical energy of some localities? Mandukhai, a Mongolian anthropologist tries to find an answer to such a phenomenon and discovers that shamans are related not just to magic, but to the tragic past of Mongolia’s rural communities. This is a serious read for those interested in history, political influence on indigenous culture, anthropology, magic, gender, and Mongolia’s nomadic lifestyle.

By Manduhai Buyandelger,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The collapse of socialism at the end of the twentieth century brought devastating changes to Mongolia. Economic shock therapy - an immediate liberalization of trade and privatization of publicly owned assets - quickly led to impoverishment, especially in rural parts of the country, where Tragic Spirits takes place. Following the travels of the nomadic Buryats, Manduhai Buyandelger tells a story not only of economic devastation but also a remarkable Buryat response to it - the revival of shamanic practices after decades of socialist suppression. Attributing their current misfortunes to returning ancestral spirits who are vengeful over being abandoned under socialism,…


Book cover of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia

Stephan Lewandowsky Author Of The Debunking Handbook 2020

From my list on the perils facing democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had a lifelong interest in history and in particular the history of democracy. When I became a cognitive scientist, I initially studied basic memory processes using a mix of computer simulations and experimentation. I became interested in misinformation during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when the purported “Weapons of Mass Destruction” never materialized but large segments of the American public continued to believe in their existence. Some 20 years later, misinformation has taken center stage in public life and has metastasized into a danger to democracy in many countries around the world. The books on this list should present a warning and inspiration to all of us.

Stephan's book list on the perils facing democracy

Stephan Lewandowsky Why did Stephan love this book?

This is a page-turner that I read in one go from front to finish. It reads like a thriller and keeps you hooked, although it is also a very serious analysis of contemporary Russia by one of the UK’s most skilled journalists and authors. It is as thrilling as it is frightening because there are so many signs that western countries are heading in a similar direction—a country that “is a dictatorship in the morning, a democracy at lunch, an oligarchy by suppertime, while, backstage, oil companies are expropriated, journalists killed, billions siphoned away”, as Peter put it in one of his memorable phrases.

By Peter Pomerantsev,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the new Russia, even dictatorship is a reality show. Professional killers with the souls of artists, would-be theater directors turned Kremlin puppet-masters, suicidal supermodels, Hell's Angels who hallucinate themselves as holy warriors, and oligarch revolutionaries: welcome to the glittering, surreal heart of twenty-first-century Russia. It is a world erupting with new money and new power, changing so fast it breaks all sense of reality, home to a form of dictatorship--far subtler than twentieth-century strains--that is rapidly rising to challenge the West. When British producer Peter Pomerantsev plunges into the booming Russian TV industry, he gains access to every nook…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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