War and PunishmentMikhail Zygar
How did a German monk's fear of the Ottoman Empire drive him to invent the fiction of a united Russian world? How did corny spy novels about a 'Soviet James Bond' inspire Vladimir Putin to join the KGB? How did Alexander Pushkin's admiration for a poem by Lord Byron end with him slandering the legendary chief of the Cossacks? And how did Putin underestimate a rising TV comic named Volodymyr Zelensky, failing to see that his satire had become deadly serious, and that his country would be a joke no longer?
A noted expert on the Kremlin with unparalleled access to hundreds of players in the current conflict - from politicians to oligarchs, gangsters to comedians (not least Zelensky himself) - Zygar chronicles the power struggles from which today's politics grew, and digs out the essential truths from behind layers of seductive legend. By surveying the strange, complex record of Russo-Ukrainian relations, War and Punishment reveals exactly how the largest nation on Earth lost its senses. A work of history can't undo the past or transform the present, but sometimes it can shape the future.
In fact, that's how the story begins.