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The stunning story of Russia’s slide back into a dictatorship—and how the West is now paying the price for allowing it to happen. The ascension of Vladimir Putin—a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB—to the presidency of Russia in 1999 was a strong signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Yet in the intervening years —as America and the world’s other leading The stunning story of Russia’s slide back into a dictatorship—and how the West is now paying the price for allowing it to happen. The ascension of Vladimir Putin—a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB—to the presidency of Russia in 1999 was a strong signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Yet in the intervening years —as America and the world’s other leading powers have continued to appease him — Putin has grown not only into a dictator but an international threat. With his vast resources and nuclear arsenal, Putin is at the center of a worldwide assault on political liberty and the modern world order. For Garry Kasparov, none of this is news. He has been a vocal critic of Putin for over a decade, even leading the pro-democracy opposition to him in the farcical 2008 presidential election. Yet years of seeing his Cassandra-like prophecies about Putin’s intentions fulfilled have left Kasparov with a darker truth: Putin’s Russia, like ISIS or Al Qaeda, defines itself in opposition to the free countries of the world. As Putin has grown ever more powerful, the threat he poses has grown from local to regional and finally to global. In this urgent book, Kasparov shows that the collapse of the Soviet Union was not an endpoint — only a change of seasons, as the Cold War melted into a new spring. But now, after years of complacency and poor judgment, winter is once again upon us. Argued with the force of Kasparov’s world-class intelligence, conviction, and hopes for his home country, Winter Is Coming reveals Putin for what he is: an existential danger hiding in plain sight.


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The stunning story of Russia’s slide back into a dictatorship—and how the West is now paying the price for allowing it to happen. The ascension of Vladimir Putin—a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB—to the presidency of Russia in 1999 was a strong signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Yet in the intervening years —as America and the world’s other leading The stunning story of Russia’s slide back into a dictatorship—and how the West is now paying the price for allowing it to happen. The ascension of Vladimir Putin—a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB—to the presidency of Russia in 1999 was a strong signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Yet in the intervening years —as America and the world’s other leading powers have continued to appease him — Putin has grown not only into a dictator but an international threat. With his vast resources and nuclear arsenal, Putin is at the center of a worldwide assault on political liberty and the modern world order. For Garry Kasparov, none of this is news. He has been a vocal critic of Putin for over a decade, even leading the pro-democracy opposition to him in the farcical 2008 presidential election. Yet years of seeing his Cassandra-like prophecies about Putin’s intentions fulfilled have left Kasparov with a darker truth: Putin’s Russia, like ISIS or Al Qaeda, defines itself in opposition to the free countries of the world. As Putin has grown ever more powerful, the threat he poses has grown from local to regional and finally to global. In this urgent book, Kasparov shows that the collapse of the Soviet Union was not an endpoint — only a change of seasons, as the Cold War melted into a new spring. But now, after years of complacency and poor judgment, winter is once again upon us. Argued with the force of Kasparov’s world-class intelligence, conviction, and hopes for his home country, Winter Is Coming reveals Putin for what he is: an existential danger hiding in plain sight.

30 review for Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    [Original review, Jul 27 2018] Some people don't like this book: they think Kasparov is boastful and lacking in objectivity, and refuse to take it seriously. Having closely followed Kasparov's career since the late 70s and read most of his earlier books, I think that's a superficial judgement. Kasparov is an extraordinarily smart guy with excellent analytical skills. He was the world #1 rated chess player for twenty years, which made him an international rock star; he's met everyone and talked wi [Original review, Jul 27 2018] Some people don't like this book: they think Kasparov is boastful and lacking in objectivity, and refuse to take it seriously. Having closely followed Kasparov's career since the late 70s and read most of his earlier books, I think that's a superficial judgement. Kasparov is an extraordinarily smart guy with excellent analytical skills. He was the world #1 rated chess player for twenty years, which made him an international rock star; he's met everyone and talked with them face to face. Even more to the point, he's lived both in the West and in Russia, where he was for many years a leading figure in the Russian opposition. When he tells us what Putin is like, he's drawing on a large body of experience, including a good deal of information that isn't generally available. It seems to me that we would be well advised to listen to him. This book was published in late 2015, and it's interesting and scary to read it in the second year of the Trump presidency. Kasparov's sympathies are strongly with the Republicans. He is a huge admirer of Reagan, whom he repeatedly praises for his "moral vision" in taking a tough line against the Soviet Union. He thinks it's a tragedy that Obama beat McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012; he hates Obama's foreign policy, which he condemns as weak and ineffective. He has similar things to say about both Bill and Hillary Clinton. He is even a little positive about the Bushes. In general, he is unquestioningly in favour of free markets and American exceptionalism. If you are a Republican voter, you ought to feel that he's on your side. When you read Kasparov, you realise just how strange it is to see Trump cosying up to Vladimir Putin. This is not normal behaviour for the leader of the GOP. In fact, it's 180 degrees away from normal behaviour. Nearly all the things Kasparov says about Putin and the new Russia he has created I had seen before, but when they are put together in one place you understand how worrying they are. Russia, as the world's largest oil and natural gas producer, is sitting on top of a huge reservoir of wealth. All of this wealth is controlled by Putin, who has built up a Mafia-like command structure that lets him eliminate anyone who fails to obey orders. There is barely a pretence of democracy any more: the system is fixed so that real opposition candidates can't even get as far as standing for election. On the transparency.org Corruption Perception Index, Russia is in 135th place, equal with Mexico and behind countries like Iran, Liberia and Thailand. If you see Russia described as a kleptocracy, that is not exaggeration but simple description. The whole country is run by a small, extremely wealthy elite. There are over 80 billionaires, more than in Germany and Japan combined; when Putin took power, there weren't any. Putin, a former colonel in the KGB, comes across as a ruthless psychopath who thinks nothing of killing large numbers of innocent people if it furthers his political ends. To take just one example, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the "apartment bombings" of 1999 were a false flag operation whose goal was to supply a pretext for declaring a state of emergency and increasing the state's power. No proper investigations were ever carried out, and key evidence was declared secret and sealed for 75 years. Alexander Litvinenko, who wrote a book about the events, Blowing Up Russia, fled to England, where he was assassinated using polonium-210, almost certainly by Putin's agents. At least two of Kasparov's friends in the Russian opposition, Anna Politkovskaya and Boris Nemtsov, were also assassinated in highly suspicious circumstances. On the international scene, Putin has carried out blatant invasions of two sovereign countries, Georgia and Ukraine. He has stirred up trouble in the Middle East, supporting militant factions in Syria and Iran. A connection Kasparov points out, which I'm embarrassed to say I hadn't considered before, is that war in the Middle East is very good for Russia, since it increases the price of oil. The price of oil has indeed risen a great deal since Putin came into power. It is more than worrying that Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed positive opinions about Putin, treats him with uncharacteristic deference when they meet, and on several occasions has made unusual decisions which appear to be strategically useful for him. For example, I note that at the recent NATO meeting in Brussels, held in July 2018, Trump disrupted the agenda such an extent that it was impossible to discuss the question of Georgia's and Ukraine's accession to NATO. If you are an American voter who's trying to decide what to do this November, I recommend reading Kasparov's book. You may conclude that it's just a bunch of conspiracy theories and you trust your president. Or again, you may not. _______________________ [Update, Aug 3 2018] People who think the Russian annexation of Crimea is a non-issue and that Putin was only doing what the Crimean population wanted may like to comment on this open letter to Oleg Sentsov. _______________________ [Update, Aug 30 2018] Given the extremely tough sanctions the US have introduced after ripping up the Iranian nuclear deal, it seems impossible for Europe to keep the deal in place. Iran is now threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz, arguing that if they can't sell their oil, they don't see why anyone else in the area should be able to either. They categorically refuse to enter into new negotiations with the US. It's hard to see how anyone is going to benefit from these developments. Except - oh yes! - I suppose oil prices could rise, which might conceivably improve Russia's rather shaky economic outlook. Well, as they say, it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good. _______________________ [Update, Dec 3 2018] Nice piece by Kasparov here. "Instead of being guided by the values of the Founding Fathers, Trump has the moral compass of a YouTube comments section..." _______________________ [Update, Jan 16 2019] (more details here...) _______________________ [Update, Oct 2 2019] From Twitter thread here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~ ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣

    Unsurprisingly superficial. Chess players, sadly, rarely are able to orient adequately in life. This had been marvellously reflected in a well-known Nabokov's novel and this book is a testament to this. An ex-chess-champion who decided to become a yet another safe-proclaimed Cassandra of a better-than-though politician. Gosh! God knows there already are millions, if not billions, of those on this overpopulated globe and any other professional would be of immensely more use. The author's a vastly Unsurprisingly superficial. Chess players, sadly, rarely are able to orient adequately in life. This had been marvellously reflected in a well-known Nabokov's novel and this book is a testament to this. An ex-chess-champion who decided to become a yet another safe-proclaimed Cassandra of a better-than-though politician. Gosh! God knows there already are millions, if not billions, of those on this overpopulated globe and any other professional would be of immensely more use. The author's a vastly worse politician than a chess player and a writer of even less qualifications. His analytical real-world skills are altogether nonexistent. Sadly none of these stopped him from penning this diatribe full of propaganda and fear-mongering: Q: "Putin's Russia, like ISIS or Al Qaeda, defines itself in opposition to the free countries..." (c) Actually, one can reverse it: "The self-proclaimed free countries, like their allies ISIS or Al Qaeda (which do include the US-backed opposition groups in Syria, yep? *), define themselves in opposition to Russia." Both statements are opinions, and as such both are entitled to exist in a liberal world. PS. I hope Mr K at least got paid for this nasty stuff from some country's taxes. PSS. * https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/... *http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/20/pol... *http://www.wnd.com/2015/02/u-s-backed... *https://southfront.org/isis-commander... Really, WP, CNN and a bunch of other media basically confirm that there have been covert programs to train Muslim guerillas, financed until recent date by the dime of the US taxpayers, for Mr Trump to stop. Had there been none, would he have been able to stop any? Don't think so. The next question should not be about Moscow. It should be what the hell did Mr Obama think when he authorised training guys who go back and forth between ISIS, US-backed opposition and God knows what other terroristic groups? What, there are no longer any poor people in the US? Even a person with extremely poor imagination could think of other ways to utilize that money more productively, yep. For instance, one might pay off the US external debt which is the biggest on Earth to date. It read as a YA for the politically deficient. What exactly is that winter that is coming? Is it unexpected that there are seasons changing? Or is it a gauche RR Martin retelling? I think the author really likes Yeltsin and really dislikes Putin. That could have been condensed into a one-liner not a whole drawn out tedious book, extolling the virtues of 'America' (as the author keeps referring to it) in 1990s and trying to refashion Russia into some obscure 'threat'. Q: Russia threatens to turn off the pipelines that supply Europe with a third of its oil and gas … To take one easy example: Europe gets a third of its energy from Russia in total, though some individual countries get considerably more. Meanwhile, Europe draws 80 percent of Russia’s energy exports, so who has the greater leverage in this relationship? And yet during the Ukraine crisis we have heard it repeated constantly that Europe cannot act against Russia because of energy dependency! (c) Seriously? Imagine you grow potatoes, make chips and sell them to your neighbours. And all of a sudden you decide to take a vacation or maybe sell them elsewhere or start making some kind of potato shortbread or maybe eat them yourself or do potato sculpture… You get my drift? Those are your potatoes and you can do whatever you want with them. So, gas, Russian gas. Russia has the perfect right to do whatever it pleases with its property. Q: Jump forward to the beginning of 2015 and Putin is still in the Kremlin. Russian forces have attacked Ukraine and annexed Crimea. (c) Can anyone please pay attention that there were referendums there? I know for a fact that people voted, not everyone wants to be a part of the kleptocracy that is, sadly, Ukraine today. It seems that democracy applies only to the chosen: Brexit is ok, Catalonia/Crimea/Donbass exit is not ok, huh? Q: A metaphorical mafia state with Putin as the capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses) has moved from being an ideologically agnostic kleptocracy to using blatantly fascist propaganda and tactics. (c)What are those fascist tactics and propaganda? Where can I see an example of that stuff? It’s stupid, really. It was Putin who put the end to the neo-Nazi movements which were proliferating in 1990s and even as late as early 00s in Russia. So, he ended the fascistic tendencies not started them… Q: Putin’s Russia is clearly the biggest and most dangerous threat facing the world today, but it is not the only one. (c) Fearmongering. How is Russia threatening and torturing everyone? Maybe Gina Haspel is doing the torturing? Oh, wait, she is the CIA director with a proven history of torturing people. How nice. And Russia is still being called dangerous and torturing. Q: Terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are (despite the latter’s name) stateless and without the vast resources and weapons of mass destruction Putin has at his fingertips. (c) Sure, just the US funding them and defending them and teaching them to fight. A widely known thing. Those guys didn’t just sprout in some god-forsaken desert, you know. And Putin had nothing to do with them, so this is fearmongering again. Q: What’s more, state sponsors of terror are benefiting as democratic terrorist targets fail to organize an aggressive defense. (c) Interesting. Who are those ‘state sponsors of terror’? How exactly did the US fail financing the ISIS and then starting wars with a bunch of Arabic countries? Attacking on the basis of unproven info (we were mistaken about their chemical weapons, sorry!). I think it did okay. Q: The murderous regimes of Iran, North Korea, and Syria have enjoyed considerable time at the bargaining table with the world’s great powers while making no significant concessions. (c) Oh, yes, especially Syria and Iran – they are SO VERY ENJOYING all the wars they have been subjected to. Kasparov is even more delusional then I remembered reading this the 1st time around! As for the NK, frankly, I think it’s still around only because they have gone nuclear. Otherwise, they would have been bombed the heck out. And ‘the great powers’ – who appointed them to be the great? Was there some worldwide memorandum to choose a bunch of ‘great powers’? If so, I don’t remember being invited to vote. If there wasn’t, they can fuck off – no one has to make any concessions, unless 'the powers' are being civil, demilitarized and make sense (looking for non-existing chemical weapons makes little sense, sorry!) Q: It’s not new to talk about the challenges of the multipolar world that arose with the end of the Cold War. What is lacking is a coherent strategy to deal with these challenges. When the Cold War ended, the winners were left without a sense of purpose and without a common foe to unite against. (c) I’m sorry, what winners? Who ARE those winners, can anyone show me them on a map? A common foe? So, they decided to appoint Russia as a common foe? Hey, winners, how about instead demilitarizing (Russia doesn’t attack, but its defense is vicious, go learn some history) and improving on your social policies and paying off some debts? I get that it’s cooler to invent ‘common foes’ and unite against them but how about doing something constructive once in a while, instead? Life is not chess, foes are not a fixture. Q: The enemies of the free world have no such doubts. … And yet we continue to engage them, to negotiate, and even to provide these enemies with the weapons and wealth they use to attack us. (c) Who are these enemies? Paranoid much? Where is that free world? Is it really free? Was Catalonia free to exit? So, Mr Kasparov is suggesting not negotiating? Attacking right away? Nuclear much? Such ‘brilliant thinkers’ as himself are what scared the NK into their nuclear decisions. Fear is a dreadful motivator. Q: Any political chill between Washington, DC, and Moscow or Beijing is quickly criticized by both sides as a potential “return to the Cold War.” The use of this cliché today is ironic, given that the way the Cold War was fought and won has been forgotten instead of emulated. Instead of standing on principles of good and evil, of right and wrong, and on the universal values of human rights and human life, we have engagement, resets, and moral equivalence. (c)Sorry? Who fought and won the Cold War? Anyone in a hurry to make the last stand? Anyone estimating how many people would die if WW3 broke out? Human life sounds of no big concern for Mr Kasparov. I realise it’s all chess for him, chess pieces never bleed or suffer. Humans do, however. Q: We must fight with the vast resources of the free world, beginning with moral values and economic incentives and with military action only as a last resort. America must lead, with its vast resources and its ability to mobilize its fractious and fractured allies. (c) 'America' should stop fricking with other states and fix its economy, if it can. None of us want to behold its default on its debts, which is imminent. Fighting? I’d love to see this guy fight anyone, if he loves fighting this much. Once again, his calls to arms are irritating. He really is in such a hurry to participate and likely die in WW3? Q: Japan and South Korea must act, Australia and Brazil, India and South Africa, and every country that values democracy and liberty and benefits from global stability. We know it can be done because it has been done before. We must find the courage to do it again. (c) Exactly how they should act? We sort of know WW1 and WW2 were done before, thank you. Do we really need WW3? I don’t think so. Economic sanctions? I don’t think so. Arab spring? Thank you, no thank you! Ukraine maidan? It got Ukraine to get destroyed from within. Q: Like many Russians, I was troubled by the little-known Putin’s KGB background (c) How many Russians were troubled? Is that a conjecture or was there hard data used? Unclear. Little-known background? You must be kidding me: every moron and their brother know of it. It’s one of the most widely publicized information on any of the modern world leaders. I think Putin is the most well-known spy ever, though Mr ‘Bond, James Bond’ might have beaten him in terms of popularity. Not for long, though. Little-known? Under which stone do the modern chess-players line today, I’d like to know. Q: I hoped to use my energy and my fame to push back against the rising tide of repression coming from the Kremlin. (c) Where is that rising tide of repression? Where can one see it? Where are those who were repressed? Q: evidence mounted that Russian forces had shot down a commercial airliner over Ukraine… (c) Seriously? I’ve recently read the Belingcat article on that and it’s conjecture. Basically, it said something along the lines of: ‘This is Vasya. Vasia is the colonel of the Russian army in Kursk, 111 division. This is rocket from Rostov Russian army division 222. Vasya shot that rocket into that plane. We investigated it. Immediately, I was overloaded with questions: ‘Where did they get the photo of the rocket and the Vasya and whatever? How do I know they didn’t just take some random guy photo and attach it? Did they know beforehand it would be shot? How did they establish where it came from? Why did they think it was 222 division and not 333? Why do they think is was Vasya? Where are the facts? I’m what, 3 years old and supposed to believe it just because they said it?’ And all the versions are like that… Q: They have their initial public offerings (IPOs) and luxury real estate in New York City and London, providing fees and tax revenue that greedy Western politicians and corporations are loathe to give up in the name of human rights. (c) So, the ‘free world’ is supposed to relinquish human rights? Or what? What IPO did Putin make (I must have missed that one, must have been one hoot of an IPO)? Who, what and where? Q: Unfree states exploit the openness of the free world by hiring lobbyists, spreading propaganda in the media, and contributing heavily to politicians, political parties, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). (c) What are these unfree states? I think a child could have phrased that better. So, lobbyists… What, only ‘greedy politicians’ are now allowed to lobby? Anyway, where are the names and facts and dates and amounts? Who lobbied who and for what and where and when and how?? Pure conjecture. Q: There is very little backlash when these activities are exposed. (c) When precisely are these activities exposed? And what exactly are these activities? Who paid who and how much and when and what for? Q: By 2008… The only other names on the ballot were the loyal opposition in their appointed roles: Gennady Zyuganov of the Communists and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, (с) Not true. There was independent Bogdanov as well. Q: it should have been clear to all that Russian democracy was dead. (c) Did anyone check its pulse and breathing? It seems to be kicking still. Q: But instead of making comparisons to the 1950s or the 1970s, what about to the 1990s? It is not difficult to improve on life under the totalitarian Communism of Stalin or Brezhnev, but what about life under Yeltsin? What about the destruction of every newborn democratic institution…? (c) Delusional. 1990s was when real plutocracy was introduced in Russia… Also, all the gangs, street violence, slave trade, destroyed economy! I don’t think Mr. Kasparov knows anything about Russia in the 90s… Probably was too busy playing chess to notice street shootouts and murders and violence and people being thrown out from their homes. Q: Communism did not disappear when the Wall came down. Nearly 1.5 billion human beings still live in Communist dictatorships today, and another billion and a half live in unfree states of different stripes, including, of course, much of the former Soviet Union. (c)Uhhh, can anyone remind the guy that in any democratic country people have the right to be communists, capitalists, socialists, monarchists, democrats, liberals, anarchists and whatever other -ists and -ats and -als they prefer... I don't see any practical suggestions of Mr Kasparov's here. Q: Since 2013, the Kremlin and its various mouthpieces have accompanied the latest crackdowns on gays and the media with overtly fascist rhetoric about “un-Russian” behavior, treason, and betrayal of the nation. Some of these speeches, including a few of Putin’s own, so closely resemble those of Nazi leaders in the 1930s that they seem only to change the word “fatherland” to “motherland.” (c)I want examples. This is fearmongering, pure and simple. I haven't been able to find examples of such 'rhetoric' Q: A war on any grounds is terrible, but Putin’s dangerous turn to ethnically based imperialism ... (c) There is no such thing as 'ethnically based imperialism'. Russia is one of the most multiethnical countries of the modern times. Just look at the goddamn map! Q: And what of the actual war and invasion and annexation of European soil that has already happened in Ukraine? (c)Since when is Ukraine a European soil? When did it happen? Ukraine has become independent in 1991. It first wanted to become independent as Ukraine in 1917. Before that... well, Ukraine had been 'Malorossia' ever since Bogdan Khmelnitzky applied to Russian Imperia for Protectorate against Rzecz Pospolita in 1653. I'm sorry but where is Europe in this picture? Is Rzecz Pospolita supposed to be representing the Europe or something? Q: is important, though, to remember that in 1936—and even in 1937 and 1938— Hitler was no Hitler either! (c) Uh-huh, makes sense he was a tiny little bunny at the time Q: But Putin has one thing Hitler never had: nuclear weapons. (c)Fearmongering. A lot of people have a lot of things Hitler never had. For example, Barack Obama's family and the US's nuclear weapons and Mr Kasparov's fave chess board: all those things I'm sure Hitler never had as well. So, we should all be afraid of Mr Kasparov and Mr Obama and the US: the 3 of them, they are sure to overshoot Hitler on their way to world domination. Right? Q: Putin at home. How could he be called anti-democratic, let alone a despot, if he was embraced so heartily by the likes of George W. Bush, Silvio Berlusconi, and Nicolas Sarkozy? (c)So, how about not calling him what he isn't? Q: In 2015, after two exhausting and mismanaged wars, a humbling financial crisis, the rapid rise of China, and America’s apparent impotence in various global hotspots, it’s easy to forget just how dominant the United States was in the 1990s. (c)And grown their debt sky-high. Was it worth it? Q: Substitute “Ukraine” for “Kosovo” and “Putin” for “Milosevic” and President Obama could repeat it nearly word for word to my great satisfaction. (c)Megalomaniak much? This guy is really advocating air strikes against Russia? Does he know how many people died in Yugoslavia air strikes? Q: United States looked all powerful at the end of the Cold War, like the Wizard of Oz before the curtain was pulled back. (c)*eye-roll* Q: By 1999, when Clinton finally got it right in Kosovo... . The “Blackhawk Down” catastrophe in Somalia, the genocides in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, conceding to Russia on Chechnya and limiting NATO expansion: each was a blow to global stability and its supposed guarantors in the United States and the European Union. (c)Kosovo cost lives and set a dangerous precedent of interfering into other states' affairs, hence Arabian spring. 'Conceding to Russia on Chechnya'? Slave trade should have gone on? Limiting NATO expansion? Why should it expand? Comparing the 'BD' with Yugoslavia and Rwanda is actually blasphemous. The author has no feeling of proportion. Comparing 100 and 10 000 and 1 000 000 is all right for him. Q: I feel I must also apply to myself the standards I regularly urge on the leaders of the free world who so often put expediency and personal affinity over nurturing institutions. (c) Who does he urge his standards on? How exactly does he apply them to himself? How many countries has the author decided to bomb the hell out of, anyway? Q: Boris Yeltsin had more than his share of faults, but he was a real person. He had virtues and vices in his flesh and blood. We exchanged him for a shadow of a man who wants only to keep us all in perpetual darkness. (c) What does than mean? Which persons are real and which aren't? How did the author establish those wants? What is that about darkness and shadows? He really should stop mixing reality with RR Martin's masterpiece. Q: His parents may or may not have believed in a Communist future for all the world, in the ultimate triumph of justice for the proletariat, or in any of the other ideological clichés that had been worn thin by the time ... A new biography I haven’t had a chance to really study is Mr. Putin.. (c) So why are we even discussing these things, if we know nothing on them? Q: 'The search for Putin's soul' (c) Yes, there's a whole chapter on this mystic endeavor...

  3. 4 out of 5

    David

    Garry Kasparov is known to most Americans as a former World Chess Champion, one of the best of a long line of Russian chess grandmasters. However, even while he was still playing for the Soviet Union, he was often skating on thin ice, granting interviews to decadent American publications like Playboy in which he criticized the Soviet regime in ways that would have been unthinkable decades earlier. After retiring as a professional chess player, he became a human rights activist, campaigning for fr Garry Kasparov is known to most Americans as a former World Chess Champion, one of the best of a long line of Russian chess grandmasters. However, even while he was still playing for the Soviet Union, he was often skating on thin ice, granting interviews to decadent American publications like Playboy in which he criticized the Soviet regime in ways that would have been unthinkable decades earlier. After retiring as a professional chess player, he became a human rights activist, campaigning for freedom and democracy in his home country of Russia. In Winter is Coming, he argues that Russian freedom and democracy has essentially been killed by Vladimir Putin, and that the world must stand up to Putin now before it's too late. Published last year (in 2015), this book will quickly become a piece of history in which we'll be able to judge how prescient or accurate he was, but right now, it's quite timely, referencing ISIS, the Obama administration, Pussy Riot, and Edward Snowden in its final chapters. Kasparov does not pretend to be objective, and he is neither a journalist nor a historian. This book will educate Westerners who are only vaguely familiar with post-Soviet Russian politics and how Putin became effectively dictator-for-life of Russia, but don't mistake Winter is Coming as a comprehensive and balanced examination of the subject - Kasparov despises Putin and wants the United States and the Western world to do everything short of going to war to remove him from power. And really, the only reason he admits that a war would be a bad idea is because Russia has nukes. So this book is mostly a long polemic - a compelling, often convincing polemic, but it's a call to arms against a man he compares to Stalin and Hitler. (He acknowledges that Putin is not Stalin or Hitler, but repeatedly adds the caveat "...yet.") Most of us in America probably are unfamiliar with the dirty details of Putin's government. Kasparov's argument is essentially that in the heady days following the collapse of the USSR, Russia had an opportunity to become a truly free and open society, but that was gradually lost thanks to the machinations of Putin and his lapdog, Dmitry Medvedev. He presents the situation as it is today in Russia, 2015, pointing out that while Europe and the US pretend that Russia is nominally a democracy, it in fact has less freedom than it did in the late 90s/early 00s, and that Putin and his oligarchy are more akin to a Mafia family than a Constitutional government. Kasparov also places a great deal of blame on the West, and specifically all the American presidents since Bush Sr, for not using America's power to reign Putin in. But his strongest criticism is for Obama. While I found Kasparov's views interesting and informative, I wish I knew enough to judge how accurate his accusations are. This is a very one-sided book and I think one needs a more balanced account to come to a more informed judgment. I don't mean by that that Kasparov is being unfair to Putin, or that his claims are wrong - I suspect most if not all of what he says is quite true. But this is still an unabashedly political book and I know there are a lot of complexities in the events he describes that makes what he considers to have been the "obvious" response less so. For example, he says when Russia threatened to shut off its oil and natural gas pipelines to Europe, Europe should have bitten the bullet and called them on it, and then transitioned to depending less on Russia for its resources, because Russia needs Europe economically far more than Europe needs Russia. Now, this is undoubtedly true, but that's still a hard case to make, especially in the very Western democracies that Kasparov wants Russia to emulate, where voters are going to react strongly to suddenly having no heat in the winter. So in demanding that Western governments take unilateral action against Putin for the greater good, Kasparov seems to think Western governments can act by fiat the way Putin does. It's not unlike the case that has been made in the US for years - we know that being dependent on oil from the Middle East has forced us to put up with some very unsavory business partners, and that we'd be better off weaning ourselves off of it. But that's something the American people have to decide they want to do, it's not something the President can just declare. And repeatedly, Kasparov blames American Presidents, but especially Obama, for being weak and enabling Putin's rise to power, instead of threatening him with economic and even military retaliation. Is Putin a very nasty character, who has imposed Soviet-style suppression of the press and imprisonment, exile, or execution of his enemies? Absolutely. But Kasparov repeatedly enters the realm of speculation and conspiracy theory, in areas I am not qualified to judge. He talks a lot about the Chechen wars, for example, and the Beslan school siege, and the Moscow theater hostage crisis, about which there are evidently cottage industries of conspiracy theories in Russia, suggesting they were "false flags" by Russian special forces, or that the government lied about important details. Probably the government did lie about important details, and Kasparov doesn't claim to know any of the conspiracy theories are true, but clearly he's willing to give them credibility, and ultimately blame everything on Putin. He also wants the West to defend Ukraine against Russia - literally defend it, with tanks and planes and soldiers if necessary. He's certain Putin would back down if it meant actually going to war with NATO. While his historical parallels - to Chamberlain, particularly - are biting, there's also good reason for us to be very wary before stepping into another quagmire in the name of "freedom and democracy." I don't blame Kasparov for feeling as he does. He's effectively a political exile who saw his country go from communist dictatorship to (briefly) a rising democracy, only to be crushed again beneath the iron heel of totalitarianism, except this time it's a totalitarianism that is better at pretending not to be one - after all, Russians today have McDonalds and the Internet! His political opinions are very strong (he thought Clinton being elected was a disaster, and Obama even worse, and clearly thinks Republicans would deal with Putin better than Democrats - one wonders what he thinks of Trump, but he certainly has nothing good to say about Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State), but his views on Russia should not be dismissed because of that. Nonetheless, as brilliant as Kasparov may be, I don't think I'd necessarily want him guiding our foreign policy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Owlseyes

    "Putin is a lost cause" G. Kasparov "Putin’s decision was a tactical masterstroke. Instead of keeping the presidency himself, he endorsed his first deputy prime minister, the young Dmitry Medvedev, who was generally seen as far more liberal and pro-Western than his boss". (from the book) "Putin is not an ideologue. He and his cronies accumulated tremendous wealth, and the threat of not being able to enjoy it freely in the West would have been a very serious threat. Unlike their Soviet prede "Putin is a lost cause" G. Kasparov "Putin’s decision was a tactical masterstroke. Instead of keeping the presidency himself, he endorsed his first deputy prime minister, the young Dmitry Medvedev, who was generally seen as far more liberal and pro-Western than his boss". (from the book) "Putin is not an ideologue. He and his cronies accumulated tremendous wealth, and the threat of not being able to enjoy it freely in the West would have been a very serious threat. Unlike their Soviet predecessors, Putin and his allies are not content with a late-model ZIL limousine and a nice dacha on the Black Sea. They want to rule like Josef Stalin but live like Roman Abramovich, the close Putin buddy who spent his riches buying a famous English soccer team and yachts the size of soccer fields". (from the book) These are some notes taken from the interview* Kasparov gave to Anne Applebaum (of the Legatum Institute) and the presentation he gave at the public library of Kansas city. 1-The book surely has an autobiographical aspect to it, since it parallels historical events with Kasparov's chess life and increasing political awareness and later intervention as a “democracy activist”. He recalls 1985 (when he won the world chess title) and the ongoing Perestroika of Gorvatchev. But till 2005 he’d been "preaching in the desert”; he was “not received seriously”. Then when Putin came to power, Kasparov noticed Putin's Soviet values still alive with his changes in the national anthem of Russia; “KGB values”. Soon he deems Putin a “dictator to be”. With the 2012 “comeback” to power, Kasparov pinpoints a wish for a life in power (“dictatorship at its peak”) with several examples of “repression” and a unique trait of Putin: “looking for enemies”. There’s a sense of impunity, the chess champion criticizes. He recalls the Georgia case; the second Chechen war…. Beslan….and the Ukraine case, and, more recently, Syria. And yet Kasparov believes Putin has “weaknesses”, and he “can be pushed back only by strength”. 2-As for the title of the book the author refers to a change in the “political climate”,“dark and dangerous times ahead”; that’s his forecast. The book is divided in three parts. The first being an historical perspective of the past 25 years in Russia; from the rise of Gorvatchev to Putin’s intervention in Ukraine. The second part is a “personal perspective”. The third part refers to the “West inaction”. 3-It’s interesting how the chess champion viewed himself back then in Soviet times: “an half Jewish” man from Baku, Azerbaijan, …a place next to Georgia; still a “rebel”…compared to Karpov, a “darling of the soviet regime”, a “loyal” one. Yet Kasparov would beat Karpov. He highlights: the soviets used chess as an “ideological tool”: a way to show their “intellectual superiority over the decadent West”. UPDATES Kasparov: Putin's Goal in Syria Is Chaos By Garry Kasparov 10/7/15 at 12:39 PM http://europe.newsweek.com/kasparov-p... Putin Is More Dangerous Than ISIS and 1,000 Al Qaedas Says Garry Kasparov In:http://europe.newsweek.com/putin-more... *Winter is Coming: A Conversation with Garry Kasparov https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPhL2... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZI_K5... (on Syria, refugees....and oil) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqyKU... GARRY KASPAROV, A BRAVE NEW WORLD,in PORTUGAL) http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/studio... The US Is Planning a 'Color Revolution' in Russia -- But Putin Is Ready In: http://russia-insider.com/en/politics... https://www.theguardian.com/world/201... Putin will run for office on March 2018 in: http://time.com/5052012/vladimir-puti... Lost cause?... not for now Putin Won. But Russia Is Losing in: http://time.com/5210520/putin-won-but...

  5. 4 out of 5

    John

    Explaining Why Vladimir Putin Is an Ever Present Danger It would be easy to dismiss “Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped” as a polemical attack upon Vladimir Putin, but Garry Kasparov, with the assistance of Mig Greengard, has written a most thoughtful account on the history of Russian politics since the rapid decline and fall of the Soviet Union; a cautionary tale explaining how the democratic aspirations of the Russian people were derailed by u Explaining Why Vladimir Putin Is an Ever Present Danger It would be easy to dismiss “Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped” as a polemical attack upon Vladimir Putin, but Garry Kasparov, with the assistance of Mig Greengard, has written a most thoughtful account on the history of Russian politics since the rapid decline and fall of the Soviet Union; a cautionary tale explaining how the democratic aspirations of the Russian people were derailed by uninspired leadership from Boris Yeltsin, the unlikely succession and subsequent consolidation of power by his successor Vladimir Putin, and the West’s inability in promoting democracy during Yeltin’s rule, and then, in turning a blind eye to Putin’s revival of a one-party dictatorship. “Winter Is Coming” should be viewed as required reading by politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen throughout the Free World who think we should maintain “normal” diplomatic and commercial ties with Putin’s dictatorial Russian regime. What makes “Winter Is Coming” especially compelling is in recognizing it as a notable historical overview of Russian politics in the last quarter century seen personally through the eyes of Kasparov, a notable Russian democrat and critic of Putin’s kleptocratic dictatorship. A notable critic who recognized immediately, the seismic shifts in Russian politics months, even years, before many Western diplomats, historians and political scientists. (For example, he predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union months before it occurred, offering a realistic assessment of current Soviet politics which eluded American foreign policy experts, including the likes of Brent Scowcroft and Condoleeza Rice.) Kasparov offers us a far more realistic appraisal of Putin than historian Stephen F. Cohen, who has argued consistently that Putin is more a creature of the nomenklatura – the entrenched Soviet Union-born bureaucracy – and the powerful oligarchs controlling and manipulating Russia’s economy. Instead of this relatively passive view of Putin, we are introduced instead to a real-life Mafia don emerging from the pages of Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” trilogy, “The Last Don”, “Omerta” and “The Sicilian”; all of which Kasparov regards as required reading for anyone wishing to understand Putin and what makes him tick: “…..A Puzo fan sees the Putin government more accurately; a strict hierarchy, extortion, intimidation, a tough-guy image, eliminating traitors, the code of secrecy and loyalty, and, above all, a mandate to keep the revenue flowing. In other words, a mafia.” “ As long as you are loyal to the capo, he will protect you. If one of the inner circle goes against the capo, his life his forfeit. Once Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Khordorkovsky, wanted to go straight and run his Yukos oil company as a legitimate corporation and not as another cog in Putin’s KGB Inc., he quickly found himself in a Siberian prison, his company dismantled and looted, and its pieces absorbed by the state mafia apparatus of Rosneft and Gazprom. Private companies were absorbed into the state while at the same time the assets of the state companies moved into private accounts. State and corporate power merged. It became a perverse combination of Adam Smith and Karl Marx in which the profits were privatized and the expenses were nationalized.” (pages 160 -161) Kasparov condemns all of Ronald Reagan’s successors as President of the United States, who have consistently tried normalizing relations with Russia, instead of demanding extensive and radical reforms to promote democratic values and free market capitalism. Some of his worst criticism is aimed specifically at both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, whom he thinks missed ample opportunities to demand genuine reforms from Putin’s government, possibly discouraging it from seizing territories in neighboring Georgia and Ukraine. He also blames Russia’s first post-Soviet Union president, Boris Yeltsin, for not instituting political and economic reforms akin to those implemented by Czech playwright Vaclav Havel, who, as president of Czechoslovakia, ensured not only a peaceful dissolution of his country into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but also the survival of democracy and free market capitalism, allowing both to become spectacular political and economic successes in post-Soviet Empire Eastern Europe. He casts ample doubt on the actions of National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, calling into question Snowden’s asylum request, and implying that Snowden may have been aided and abetted by Putin’s KGB. Kasparov concludes by demanding that Western – and indeed, all of the Free World - political leaders try emulating the moral leadership shown by Reagan and Havel, in insisting that human rights remain the cornerstone of any diplomatic and economic overtures to the Putin regime and other newly ascendant enemies of the free world, especially ISIS in the Middle East. Kasparov thinks that when Western political leaders cease offering appeasement to the Putin regime and other dictatorships, then we may no longer fear that “Winter is Coming”.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dean

    A must read for anyone interested in Russia and the current state of affairs there, Ukraine, and Georgia. Can't come away from the read without acknowledging that Putin has succeeded in a decade in extinguishing Russian democracy while the West has stood idly by and in some cases actively assisted. Hopefully this book will serve as a wake up call.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I really loved this book and the author, chess-great, Garry Kasparov. Yet, I'm conflicted. I'd sat out the Putin-thing for some time, but have been meaning to getting around to reading something on "current events" in Russia in the last 20 years. My problem is that I like a bit of a remove from my current events. I wouldn't enjoy picking up the latest new book on some current event, because, frankly, I wouldn't know if the author was writing for political/ideological gain or for the sake of genui I really loved this book and the author, chess-great, Garry Kasparov. Yet, I'm conflicted. I'd sat out the Putin-thing for some time, but have been meaning to getting around to reading something on "current events" in Russia in the last 20 years. My problem is that I like a bit of a remove from my current events. I wouldn't enjoy picking up the latest new book on some current event, because, frankly, I wouldn't know if the author was writing for political/ideological gain or for the sake of genuine history--in short, I wouldn't know if I could trust the book. Of course, that begs the question whether any history book can be trusted, even if the events happened many hundreds of years in the past. (Also, I admit this philosophy could use some tweaking as it's not very practical for engaging society today, when it matters...perhaps if I had ever lived in a repressive society like Putin's I would appreciate more any kind of "news" or "current events" reporting, whether flawed or not). This book, published shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, masterfully covered the history of the last 30 years of the fall of the Iron Curtain and the USSR, the rise and demise of Yeltsin's once-hopeful democracy, and the rise and reign and reign-again of Putin. I was generally-enough aware of current events of the last 20 years to know that Putin probably had a penchant for killing opposition journalists and poisoning dissidents with polonium-powered coffee. I generally knew Russian society was corrupt in the mafioso-sense. But I didn't realize how much of the corruption was from the top-down. I didn't realize how alike to the USSR Russia has become in the repression of its people and their civil rights. I appreciated Kasparov's hoped-for moral calculus in foreign relations and world affairs: valuing justice and the right over Mammon and ease. Kasparov asserts that if the free world would just get their collective act together and quit pandering to the world's dictators and extremists, then the world would inexorably move towards freedom in the whole. He asserts that there is more than enough money in the free world and more than enough moral and economic clout to bring the forces of evil to bay. But this is where I found myself conflicted. This seems to be a call to be the police force of the world. Notice I didn't say policeman, as the United States is often accused of when acting unilaterally. But rather that the free nations should collectively police the un-free nations and stand up for repressed people around the world. But Kasparov must recognize that democratic countries won't always get it right: that democratic countries will do wrong themselves at times. So what is the moral acceptability of police action in a given environment, time or setting? Also, as to cost: who is going to pay for all of this killing and education and nation-building? What typically-fat democratic citizen is going to give up their high-life for the increased military and aid-to-education budgets necessary to stamp out evil all around the world? Kasparov suggests it would only take a generation to make substantial, near-total, progress. Isn't it more likely that we all have a little Putin inside of us, looking out for number one? I would love to see people all around the world dancing in the streets and living "free", but it all seems very pie-in-the-sky. But I hope I'm wrong and the guy who's been beaten and imprisoned for his beliefs is right. Kasparov concludes: "And so my last policy recommendation is to listen to the dissidents, even if you do not like what they have to say. They are the ones who reveal to us the dark realities of our societies, the realities that most of us have the luxury to turn away from. Listen to the dissidents because they warn us of the threats that target minorities first and inevitably spread to the majority. Every society has its dissidents, not just dictatorships. They speak for the disenfranchised, the ignored, and the persecuted. Listen to them now, because they speak of what is to come."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    An interesting diatribe against Vladimir Putin by a credible source, but it's predominantly personal opinions and accusations not supported by much evidence other than that which the world sees week in, week out on the world news. I wish Kasparov had supported more of his accusations (e.g., "with so many billionaire cronies, Putin must be the wealthiest of them all") with facts and hard evidence resulting from rigorous investigative journalism, such as was done by the author of "Cold Cash" about An interesting diatribe against Vladimir Putin by a credible source, but it's predominantly personal opinions and accusations not supported by much evidence other than that which the world sees week in, week out on the world news. I wish Kasparov had supported more of his accusations (e.g., "with so many billionaire cronies, Putin must be the wealthiest of them all") with facts and hard evidence resulting from rigorous investigative journalism, such as was done by the author of "Cold Cash" about the Clintons and their foundation. Not that I don't believe Putin is evil personified and that Kasparov isn't spot on; I simply think the book is too easily dismissed as the ranting of an enemy without more detailed proof of the accusations.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Radiantflux

    30th book for 2017. I read this as a follow-up to the Malcom Nance's excellent book The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election in order to get a better understanding of Russian politics. Kasparov, as Russian ex-World chess champion, and as successor to Václav Havel as leader of the New York based Human Rights Foundation, is a privileged observer who offers an excellent account of the rise of Putin and the shameful failure of the West to stand on 30th book for 2017. I read this as a follow-up to the Malcom Nance's excellent book The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election in order to get a better understanding of Russian politics. Kasparov, as Russian ex-World chess champion, and as successor to Václav Havel as leader of the New York based Human Rights Foundation, is a privileged observer who offers an excellent account of the rise of Putin and the shameful failure of the West to stand on the side of democracy. Another must-read in this era of the Trump presidency.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    An accusing account of Putin's rise to power, in all its gory and shady details. Kasparov might not be the most objective or sympathetic narrator, but this is a powerfully alarming book nevertheless. He is at his best when documenting the events dispassionately, or quoting other sources. I was a bit put off by the meandering and Kasparov-centered parts (throughout the book, he jumps all over the place, timeline-wise). The weakest parts are the personal opinions and speculations, some of which mig An accusing account of Putin's rise to power, in all its gory and shady details. Kasparov might not be the most objective or sympathetic narrator, but this is a powerfully alarming book nevertheless. He is at his best when documenting the events dispassionately, or quoting other sources. I was a bit put off by the meandering and Kasparov-centered parts (throughout the book, he jumps all over the place, timeline-wise). The weakest parts are the personal opinions and speculations, some of which might be close to conspiracy theories. The repeating theme here is Kasparov's exasperated protest against the western pragmatic (he would call it short-sighted, cowardly or in some cases corrupted) policy of engagement with the thug in power, and the lack of political will to stand for something or anything, other than hollow posturing. Kasparov says this is only enabling and encouraging Putin, by not holding him accountable for many crimes against humanity and democracy, but also legitimizing his, at this point it doesn't seem like an exaggeration to call it, criminal enterprise. A deeply troubling and disturbing read - not in the least for the not so improbable reverberations to our own reality, here in the West, where we might be finally waking up from the self-indulgent reverie to a cold reality of things to come.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    World chess champion Garry Kasparov has been much in the news lately because of the Russian hack into the 2016 election, but this book was published in 2015, which makes its warnings all the scarier. Chess master that he is, Garry Kasparov is good at predicting other people's next moves, so world leaders should heed his impassioned cry to curtail Putin with pressure and sanctions or whatever else is at their disposal. He calls them out for weakness in the past, focusing particularly on President World chess champion Garry Kasparov has been much in the news lately because of the Russian hack into the 2016 election, but this book was published in 2015, which makes its warnings all the scarier. Chess master that he is, Garry Kasparov is good at predicting other people's next moves, so world leaders should heed his impassioned cry to curtail Putin with pressure and sanctions or whatever else is at their disposal. He calls them out for weakness in the past, focusing particularly on President Obama, who did too little too late, but he's also got some harsh words for George W. Bush and Angela Merkel. I must admit: my mind wandered quite a bit in this book, but I suspect this may be more my fault than a fault in the writing style. I'm glad I read Masha Gessen's book on Putin first so the events of this book were more of a review and not completely new to me. The two have worked together and their general opinions are similar, except that Kasparov is more forgiving of Yeltsin, who, in trying to build a democracy from scratch, faced challenges that would fell most leaders. Also, as I said, Kasparov focuses on leaders of the Western world, which Masha Gessen barely does at all. I highly recommend both books. Everyone in the world needs to understand Putin and how much damage he can cause. Democracy itself is at stake. And Garry Kasparov, who lived in the USSR, will remind you to cherish the freedoms so many of us Americans take for granted.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nguyen Hoang

    Been playing chest for long time, I had always admired those like Bobby Fisher, Gary Kasparov. However, with all my respect towards Gary, I am not sure this should be published as a book, as it would fit a personal blog more. As an insider, Gary did have many insight view into Russia political scene. However, throughout the book, non references are given, and some controversial events like the shot down of MH17 was confirmed to be conducted by the rebel, which is the same strategy that he accuse Been playing chest for long time, I had always admired those like Bobby Fisher, Gary Kasparov. However, with all my respect towards Gary, I am not sure this should be published as a book, as it would fit a personal blog more. As an insider, Gary did have many insight view into Russia political scene. However, throughout the book, non references are given, and some controversial events like the shot down of MH17 was confirmed to be conducted by the rebel, which is the same strategy that he accused the Russian Government of (which I believe to be true). Gary did not even try to hide his hatred towards Putin which make the book lost its objectivity, which is the key point for a valid political book. I laughed as he listed the all the American, Europe President, from Churchill to Bush 41th and Obama to be weak, naive as they did not punish Russia earlier. I am not sure if we can find 1 naive one who make it to be American President, and he suggested them all. I dont think Gary is that short sighted but I think his under purpose is too big that the book becomed ridiculous sometimes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brad Lyerla

    Kasparov published WINTER IS COMING a few years ago, so I would guess that anyone following my reviews is aware of it and already decided not to read it. That was my decision too. But since the Mueller report, I have become more and more interested in understanding Putin’s role in interfering with our elections. Apparently, it has been significant and the cold war is back in a new guise. I am persuaded that Putin is an enemy of the free world. His apparent motive in helping Trump to win the elect Kasparov published WINTER IS COMING a few years ago, so I would guess that anyone following my reviews is aware of it and already decided not to read it. That was my decision too. But since the Mueller report, I have become more and more interested in understanding Putin’s role in interfering with our elections. Apparently, it has been significant and the cold war is back in a new guise. I am persuaded that Putin is an enemy of the free world. His apparent motive in helping Trump to win the election was to discredit liberal democracy and to weaken and isolate the US. Putin has enjoyed some success in both ways. Trump has weakened NATO, withdrawn from the Paris Accords, repudiated the Iranian Nuclear Treaty (and proposed something in its place that looks remarkably like the deal we already had with Iran), withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, picked fights with Mexico and Canada, started a senseless, ego-driven trade war with China, played footsies embarrassingly with North Korea, pushed Turkey closer to the Russian Federation and otherwise forfeited America’s moral leadership around the world. It may take years to repair the damage Trump has caused to America’s standing globally. Take a bow, Vladimir Putin. I suppose that Kasparov tried to do us a favor by highlighting Putin’s venal character before many of us were focused on it. But WINTER IS COMING is now stale. Written before the 2016 election, too much has happened since for WINTER to hold our attention. As for Kasparov, he is a paleo-conservative seemingly of the Pat Buchanan school. He seems to hate Barack Obama and gives far too much relevance to Ronald Reagan. He is a natural for Fox News, where I gather he has a recurring role of some kind. Though his standing as a former soviet dissident and current expat gives him a veneer of credibility, Kasparov adds little to what we now have come to know about Putin.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    Vladimir Putin is a very bad guy. If that were the only take-away from Garry Kasparov’s 2015 book “Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped”, I doubt the book would have much traction; nor do I think that it would still be talked about in foreign policy circles, which it is. The book, now three years old (ancient in terms of current events), is as relevant today as it was then, mainly because Kasparov was quite descriptive in his analysis of Putin’s gr Vladimir Putin is a very bad guy. If that were the only take-away from Garry Kasparov’s 2015 book “Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped”, I doubt the book would have much traction; nor do I think that it would still be talked about in foreign policy circles, which it is. The book, now three years old (ancient in terms of current events), is as relevant today as it was then, mainly because Kasparov was quite descriptive in his analysis of Putin’s gradual totalitarian take-over of Russia, and he was rather prophetic in giving us a sneak peek at the abuses of power that Trump has engaged in with his own fledgling totalitarian regime. The harsh criticisms that this book has received should be addressed. Many people don’t seem to like Kasparov because he has the audacity to criticize former presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their lackluster (to put it nicely) foreign policy in dealing with Russia. These critiques, of course, stem from the Left. Kasparov equally lambastes former presidents George Bush the Elder and W. for also being way too lenient on Russia, leading to some harsh criticism from the Right. Neither liberals nor conservatives, of course, like when their guys are criticized for anything. This is the problem with party politics, and it is why we are so divisive in this country. I’m not saying I’m any less guilty; I’m merely saying that we need to take an honest look at “our” respective presidents and hold them accountable. People who don’t like this book also feel that Kasparov is way too nasty in his examination of Putin, that his comparisons between Putin’s Russia and Hitler’s pre-war Germany are completely unfair and inaccurate, and that he seems to have a personal grudge against Putin. I personally think that a majority of these criticisms are from Putin-backed Russian hacker-trolls, although I have absolutely no proof of this. To the first part: Putin has gotten away with his shit and gained this much power precisely because people weren’t taking a hard enough line against him in the first place. To the second point: Kasparov makes the point that his Putin/Hitler comparison is not about what Hitler did during the Second World War II but how Putin compares to pre-war Hitler and how other countries treated him. Hitler, like Putin, was well-liked and treated with undeserved respect by other Western countries. Indeed, it was a policy of appeasement that enabled Hitler to become the political monster he became, and Kasparov warns that the same kind of appeasement toward Putin may do the same. To the last point: I don’t see that Kasparov has any personal grudge against him, although as a pro-democracy protestor and human rights activist, Kasparov has every reason to find Putin deplorable. There are also a strange number of criticisms in regards to the fact that Kasparov is a world chess champion. There is, repeatedly, a view of What the hell kind of authority does Kasparov, a chess master, have in analyzing foreign affairs? As if people who are one thing can’t also be well-versed and knowledgable in other areas. I personally find this view stupid. It is one thing to flippantly have an opinion about anything when one clearly knows nothing about a subject (I am reminded of Dr. Ben Carson, who stated publicly that he believed that the pyramids of Egypt were used as grain silos and not tombs, a completely incorrect belief that goes against all archaeological and scientific evidence), but it is a different thing entirely to have an opinion (well-researched and supported by facts) on a subject with which one isn’t necessarily a certified professional. Kasparov has clearly done his homework. Plus, he’s Russian. The fact that he’s lived under Putin directly gives him more credence than other foreign policy advisors. “Winter is Coming” is eye-opening, especially to someone like me who is admittedly ignorant about Russian history and politics. Unfortunately, no American nowadays should be ignorant about Russia, despite how much Trump Republicans want to downplay the current Russian cyber war against the U.S. As Kasparov argues (compellingly), Russia is the greatest threat to Western democracy, even moreso than Iran, North Korea, China, Syria, or ISIS. And Putin actually makes Trump look like a boy scout. (Albeit a boy scout who believes in not paying taxes, giving his super-rich pals a “get-out-of-jail-free” pass, likes to grab pussy, dreams of having sex with his own daughter, would love to see respectable journalists in concentration camps, separates children from their parents, thinks Lebron James is “stupid”, and says that some white supremacists are “very nice people”.)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zora

    Before starting this book, I read the incredible true story, Red Notice, by Bill Browder (5 star book!), which provided great background into Russia and Putin. It was good to have already read this one because Red Notice and Bill Browder's story were referred to several times in Winter Is Coming, so I was familiar with the references. Kasparov basically makes the case that Putin is an autocrat/dictator/mafioso, masquerading as a democrat (as in the leader of a democratic country), and must be sto Before starting this book, I read the incredible true story, Red Notice, by Bill Browder (5 star book!), which provided great background into Russia and Putin. It was good to have already read this one because Red Notice and Bill Browder's story were referred to several times in Winter Is Coming, so I was familiar with the references. Kasparov basically makes the case that Putin is an autocrat/dictator/mafioso, masquerading as a democrat (as in the leader of a democratic country), and must be stopped. Kasparov chastises several Western leaders for simply appeasing Putin, which Kasparov argues only encourages more bad behaviour from Putin. The book also covers relevant history in the lead up to Putin's presidency. It was a great, informative book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Putin comes off as a very dangerous anti-modern automaton, power- and wealth-seeking until death. He pushes and probes and waits for our reaction. He usually gets no flak. This encourages him. Engagement is another word for appeasement. Putin and his ilk understand strength and weakness. He doesn’t respect us. He used to care what we thought but we have been so ineffectual with him for so long it’s getting to be almost too late. Winter is Coming. We had our chance at the fall of communism, espec Putin comes off as a very dangerous anti-modern automaton, power- and wealth-seeking until death. He pushes and probes and waits for our reaction. He usually gets no flak. This encourages him. Engagement is another word for appeasement. Putin and his ilk understand strength and weakness. He doesn’t respect us. He used to care what we thought but we have been so ineffectual with him for so long it’s getting to be almost too late. Winter is Coming. We had our chance at the fall of communism, especially at the dissolution of the USSR when we held all the cards. We should have insisted on human rights, not to mention the rule of law, as a foundation for rebuilding. It would have saved us a lot of trouble and money in the long run. Plus Russians and its neighbors would have suffered less. Kasparov has shared his ideas about Russian politics and a more muscular Western response on social media, op eds and interviews. “Winter” reiterates and details his positions. He asserts that the West can have a big impact on Putin, and other anti-modern bad guys like ISIS, by formulating our foreign policy based on morals and pushing back hard. He offers a middle-way prescription for our leadership to follow short of all-out war. “… [S]imultaneously curtail engagement and use the economic leverage of existing engagement to pressure its beneficiaries in Russia.” “The ruling oligarchy maintain their assets abroad and chill in the cozy relationship between Russia’s leaders and the West could put those countless billions at risk.” “Staying on good terms with Western Europe and America, where Putin’s oligarchs also prefer to spend their time and their wealth, is therefore essential. After all, why become a Russian billionaire if you are confined to the shell of a country you looted to become one?” I admire Garry Kasparov. He is feisty, heroic and inspirational. But I don’t believe the West is big on morality or intervention these days or any time soon. Nation-building and overt warfare are not in the cards for us. We have become mostly isolationist, preoccupied by with Islamist terrorism in what remains of our foreign affairs. Winning then losing in Afghanistan while simultaneously breaking Iraq has altered the political landscape here. Cheers to you, Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz…. They have removed tools, and enthusiasm, from our foreign policy kit. I think the price of oil, culture, history and geography will influence Russia much more the anything the US can muster in our current straights. So sad. As nation of war-weary Trump- and Kardashian- worshippers, I’m afraid we are not gonna be much help out there. On a related note, is Kasparov really sure he would even want the US meddling in Russian affairs? Look back at how well we have done lately. We supported the jihadis in Afghanistan and Bosnia and broke Iraq in a war of choice, to name just a few shining examples. We cannot foresee unintended consequences. We don’t strategize. I do think Kasparov gives too much credit to Ronald Reagan. Reagan did some decent stuff but he was also a man of his circumstances. Finally, I question Kasparov’s point that we had a chance to win the trust of ordinary Russians after the break-up of the USSR. Maybe the elites in the major cities but the rest? I know older Russians LIVING IN THE US who watch and believe RT. Kasparov does go there. He convincingly compares Putin to Hitler (minus a holocaust) and engagement to appeasement. “… [S]ummarily discarding the lessons of Hitler’s political rise, how he wielded power, and how he was disregarded and abetted for so long is foolish and dangerous.” A thousand times, yes! I started reading “Mein Kampf” a couple a weeks ago. To paraphrase Kasparov: Hitler was no Hitler in 1936; Putin was no Putin in 2000. He also points out or infers many of my favorite lessons. We need to listen to what Putin says cuz he follows through -- “take evil men at their word.” We are not paying attention to history. Don’t say stupid shit like you can 'see into Putin’s soul' or 'let’s press the reset button' cuz when Putin takes over sovereign territory and his troops start a-killin’ you're not going to enjoy having to backtrack. Russia was NOT humiliated by the West at the unravelling of communism in Europe. It was the opposite – kid gloves when we had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help usher in a better future. Putin has not invaded and annexed parts of Ukraine because he doesn’t want them to join NATO. Nor does he feel threatened by us. Rather the opposite, he does what he can get away with. Dictators need instability so their flock believes they need strong leadership at the expense of freedom. On the disconnect between how Russians vs Westerners view things: “… the average Russian was more likely to point a finger at foreign financial institutions and governments for imposing what many Russians perceive as a corrupt and dysfunctional capitalist system…. This resentment was compounded by how Yeltsin (and later Putin) and other top officials routinely deployed ant-Western rhetoric to pass off any blame from landing on their shoulders.” “The corruption of the Yeltsin era is burned into the Russian collective memory only because we learned about it in the press at the time.” Now, Putin controls the media and the public learns what he wants them to know. “The main problem with .. the ‘Putin would never arguments’ in the West is that they assume Putin and his ruling elites care about Russian national interests.” “Dictators make their calculations based on force and its likely consequences, not on the genteel bickering of politicians.” As opposed to Western governments, who never seem to learn from the past: “The autocrats … are eager students of their predecessors. They make careful study of how to gradually remove rights without allowing rebellion, how to crush decent and hold sham elections while keeping favorable travel and trade status in the West, and how to talk peace while waging war.” “In 2000, when Putin took charge, there were no Russians on the Forbes magazine list of the world’s billionaires…. In 2008 there were 87, more than Germany and Japan combined, in a country where 13 per cent of our citizens were under a national poverty line of $150 a month.” In addition to engagement (G8, Sochi Olympics, trade, etc.), think about Western complicity: “After BP announced a stock swap with Rosneft: “… Rosneft is the Russian state company that was the beneficiary of the seizing and looting of [Mikhail] Khodorkovsky’s company Yukos after he was jailed. It is only a small stretch to suggest that BP was therefore in possession of stolen goods.” On my bff, Ed Snowden: “The idea that an individual could carry out this espionage mission and then flee to China and take refuge in Russia without any involvement of the KGB is incredibly hard to believe.” Keep fighting the good fight, Mr. Kasparov!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    I had been building interest and commitment for starting in on some books about Putin and his rise to power in Russia. My interest was in filling the gaps in what I knew about his rise from Yeltsin's successor to a new tsar of sorts -- background to the current issues around Russian connections and elections. I had been leaning towards "Black Wind, White Snow" or "The Man Without a Face", but then I heard about Garry Kasparov's 2015 book. Kasparov had been the world chess champion for two decades I had been building interest and commitment for starting in on some books about Putin and his rise to power in Russia. My interest was in filling the gaps in what I knew about his rise from Yeltsin's successor to a new tsar of sorts -- background to the current issues around Russian connections and elections. I had been leaning towards "Black Wind, White Snow" or "The Man Without a Face", but then I heard about Garry Kasparov's 2015 book. Kasparov had been the world chess champion for two decades before retirement and he has the honor of having fallen to "Deep Blue" in 1997. He is very smart, well read, and highly logical. After retiring from chess, he became a political activist and is now chairman of the Human Rights Foundation. Kasparov's book, "Winter is Coming" is a sharp and thorough critique of the Putin regime and Putin personally. He views Putin as nothing short of a totalitarian dictator not seeking a rebirth of Communism or even promoting a renewed Russian nationalism, except as it suits him to do. He argues that the Putin regime is a thorough going cleptocracy or gangster state in which the only logic that makes sense out of government action is that of enriching and further empowering Putin and his cronies. He traces the evolution of the regime up until 2015 and ties in the varied crises and wars that fed its development. The details ring true and the story is riveting. This is a personal story for Kasparov as well, who has suffered for his beliefs and his criticisms. It is also a worldly wise story coming from someone who benefitted from the Soviet regime and used his fame as a chess star to gain a worldwide notoriety that has opened doors for him in his activist concerns. What is perhaps most interesting about the book is the foreign policy perspective that he applies in interpreting how the western powers tolerated and even appeased Putin's power grabs out of an intent to not promote conflict, to spur Russia's post-Soviet economic development, and to obtain lucrative economic deals during the time of high oil prices. Kasparov is highly critical of how the west, including the US, dealt with Putin arguing that the appeasement of the western power enabled Putin to subvert Russian democracy and solidify his power to the point where diplomatic options are now much more limited. The alternative is to stand up to the dictator, incorporate moral values into foreign policy, and push resistance. The implication is that force is what dictators understand and that without standing up to international bullies the potential for future conflicts is enhanced. He is harshly critical of the Obama administration's approach, "reset" and all, even if Obama grew to be much more critical towards the end of his second administration. The anti-appeasement argument is sharply drawn and analogies to the rise of Hitler in the 1930s are made. Kasparov is well aware of the hazards of doing this but responds that truth is a defense and that the analogies are more than defensible. The argument puts more liberal perspectives to the test, especially those developed after the difficulties the US experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan after 2003. Kasparov is quick with the response the "of course we will never know what would have happened if ...." Putin has been stood up to - with costs that seem to be assumed rather easily but which policy makers may have struggled more over at the time. Hidesight is 20/20 of course, but given the controversies over Russia's role in the US 2016 elections, Kasparov's argument is worth paying attention to and has perhaps received new life. Kasparov's book was completed in 2015, before Trump's election, but it is not hard to imagine Kasparov's response to it and to the news of Russian intrigues. He knows how to use the internet well and has very clear views on Trump. Readers might not agree with all that Kasparov says but this is a wonderful book and well worth reading if only to deal with a strong contrary opinion that promotes a strong roles for human values in the foreign policy of major states.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fabio

    Despite the less-than-great title this book is a good and courageous review of the contemporary history of Russian leadership, from Gorbachev to Yeltsin to Putin to Medvedev and back to Putin. It not only clarifies for readers in the west the sequence of events but it drives home some necessary and clear points: (a) Vladimir Putin is a bully, you cannot buy him off by giving him carrots. He will take the carrot and beat more people the next day. (b) By delaying action against Putin the west not Despite the less-than-great title this book is a good and courageous review of the contemporary history of Russian leadership, from Gorbachev to Yeltsin to Putin to Medvedev and back to Putin. It not only clarifies for readers in the west the sequence of events but it drives home some necessary and clear points: (a) Vladimir Putin is a bully, you cannot buy him off by giving him carrots. He will take the carrot and beat more people the next day. (b) By delaying action against Putin the west not only makes it harder for itself later, but allows the importation of corruption at the highest levels, and most importantly (c) foreign policy has to be run with principle, not merely by short-sighted private interest. Some people priding themselves in their knowledge of Realpolitik may see the points above as idealistic, but I believe that is precisely the point of the book and where Kasparov's chess background comes into play: this is not a naive man who doesn't see the tradeoffs of tactics, it's a grand master who understands all the tactics telling us to look at the Strategy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lis Carey

    This is a really excellent and important book, still important two years after publication and with a new president in office. Kasparov is intelligent, knowledgeable, thoughtful, has watched Russia's transition from communism to Putinism from the inside, and has been actively involved in pro-democracy, anti-Putin resistance for years. There's a lot to be learned here, and you're making a mistake if you don't read this book. But I have one criticism, and it's a big one. Kasparov's entirely natural This is a really excellent and important book, still important two years after publication and with a new president in office. Kasparov is intelligent, knowledgeable, thoughtful, has watched Russia's transition from communism to Putinism from the inside, and has been actively involved in pro-democracy, anti-Putin resistance for years. There's a lot to be learned here, and you're making a mistake if you don't read this book. But I have one criticism, and it's a big one. Kasparov's entirely natural and appropriate focus on the concerns of his own country, especially since that country is a major nuclear power, has resulted in some major blind spots. That's what I'm going to talk about. One of his great concerns is that morality should play a role in foreign policy. I totally agree with him on that. Unfortunately, he thinks Ronald Reagan and at least the first term of George W. Bush are examples of moral clarity in foreign policy. Reagan told Gorbachev to tear down that wall! GWB didn't turn back from taking down Saddam Hussein like his wimpy father did! (That's hyperbole; Kasparov doesn't call Bush 41 a wimp.) They made western democratic values a key factor in foreign policy decisions! Except, of course, they didn't, and it's only possible to think they did by a laser-focus on US-Russia relations. They did, however, talk a lot about morality in foreign policy, while doing some utterly outrageous and, in GWB's case, seriously destabilizing thing. Reagan did tell Gorbachev to tear down that wall. His strong stance on related matters did contribute to helping break up the USSR. But he also (1) traded arms for hostages to Iran, (2) to raise money to fund right-wing rebel forces to overthrow the very suspect but democratically elected left-wing forces led by Daniel Ortega, (3) a policy which had been decisively rejected more than once by the American people and our elected representatives. You can't support democracy while rejecting the right of democratic peoples to make decisions you disagree with. Even if you believe selling arms to Iran to get hostages released and to fund the activities of forces opposing a distasteful but lawfully elected foreign leader was a good idea, the American people still had the right to disagree with you, and to vote for people who disagree with you. It doesn't get better when we look at George W. Bush, not even in his first term. There's nothing moral about lying your country in to a war. GWB built a structure of lies to convince the American people and the world that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks, or supported Al Qaeda, or was pursuing the building of nuclear weapons, or perhaps all three. None of these things was true. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. No, he wasn't the source of the 9/11 attacks. Religious fanatic Osama bin Laden and secularist Saddam Hussein hated each other; they weren't working together. Saddam Hussein wasn't at that time trying to restart either a nuclear weapons program or a chemical weapons program. And Bush 41, even though Saddam was really a bad guy, wasn't wrong to turn back from Baghdad. Taking out Saddam without pouring in enormous resources with a well-thought-out plan for rebuilding Iraq could only destabilize the entire Middle East, increasing the danger to the entire world. Bush 41 said that. No one really listened to him. When GWB quite determinedly shifted as much as possible of the blame for 9/11, as well as dreaming up fantasies of new Iraqi weapons programs, quite a lot of people, at all levels, did try to point out that defeating Saddam would mean occupying Iraq, and that occupying Iraq would require enormous resources to stabilize and rebuild it afterward in order to avoid destabilizing the Middle East. GWB and those around him brushed all objections aside and spun more fantasies, this time about how democracy and western values would just naturally break out in Iraq after Saddam was killed. It didn't work out that way, and we are still paying the price for the badly conducted war and occupation that GWB led us into under false pretenses. Lying your country into an unnecessary war isn't moral. There are other areas where I disagree with Kasparov, but those are areas of simple disagreement. Intelligent people of goodwill can disagree, even profoundly, on many issues. But lying your country into a war under false pretenses, or funding death squads in other countries because you don't like that country's elected government, or trading arms for hostages, are not mere matters of disagreement. They are profoundly immoral, anti-democratic practices. (Among those mere matters of disagreement are Georgia and Ukraine. He thinks Europe and the US need to get actively, militarily involved in these acts of aggression. I agree that we can't ignore them, and need to find a way to address them, but Europe won't be committing its armies anytime soon, and American armed forces have been run through the wringer for the last decade and a half. Some of that has been for good reasons and some for bad, but, they've been run through the wringer. And getting involved in Ukraine is perilously close to committing one of the Classic Blunders, "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." [It's possible Mr. Kasparov has never either read or seen The Princess Bride. If not, you really should at some point, Mr. Kasparov. If nothing else, it will be fun.] But that, as I think you'll agree, is merely a disagreement, a different view of a real issue that I think naturally concerns him more directly and immediately.) Having said all that, you may think I disliked this book or think you shouldn't bother to read it. Mr. Kasparov is worth arguing with because he is knowledgeable, thoughtful, and serious. You will learn a lot about Russia, what has happened there, ans why we shouldn't ignore Putin that you won't learn as easily or in as interesting a way anywhere else. You may agree with him on matters where I disagree with him. You may disagree with him where I agree with him. But read him. And take him seriously. Highly recommended. I bought this audiobook.

  20. 5 out of 5

    lärm

    Kasparov hates Putin. Kasparov is a man of ideals. Kasparov is a true defender of human rights and democracy. Kasparov thinks the western leaders are a bunch of selfish cowards. Kasparov is my man! In a very clear style he depicts the rise of Putin and the slow yet steady demolition of what little of democracy there ever was in post-soviet Russia. And he leaves no opportunity unused to point out where the West fucked up/failed. He delivers the criticism that is lacking in the bored, jaded West. H Kasparov hates Putin. Kasparov is a man of ideals. Kasparov is a true defender of human rights and democracy. Kasparov thinks the western leaders are a bunch of selfish cowards. Kasparov is my man! In a very clear style he depicts the rise of Putin and the slow yet steady demolition of what little of democracy there ever was in post-soviet Russia. And he leaves no opportunity unused to point out where the West fucked up/failed. He delivers the criticism that is lacking in the bored, jaded West. He portays our leaders as egocentric, selfish idiots who let economic interest win over human rights. This book is one big "told you so!", from perestroika to the Krim. Sadly, his next book will be filled with simply more "told you so" as the West lacks true leaders who put an end to dictators. It's a sad story, and it's a bit too long and depressing for my taste, yet i recommend it to anyone who is interested in politics.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    I think Kasparov does an excellent job of cataloging the drift over the past decades of Russia into an authoritarian dictatorship with a fig leaf display of the trappings of a republic. Worse yet Russia with other authoritarian regimes seems to want to export this model worldwide. If I read this book a couple of years ago I would have thought Kasparov had a point but was hyperbolic. Now I think he is on the money. Authoritarian regimes seem to be on the march and expanding and the west's respons I think Kasparov does an excellent job of cataloging the drift over the past decades of Russia into an authoritarian dictatorship with a fig leaf display of the trappings of a republic. Worse yet Russia with other authoritarian regimes seems to want to export this model worldwide. If I read this book a couple of years ago I would have thought Kasparov had a point but was hyperbolic. Now I think he is on the money. Authoritarian regimes seem to be on the march and expanding and the west's response to this dire threat has been tepid. We are entering a new phase of history and the future of liberal republics is far from assured. I think this book is even more timely than when it came out.

  22. 5 out of 5

    First Second Books

    Just started this one. Winter has begun. Kasparov has been warning and warning and holy shit we're in Putinland now and it's not pretty. And this is pretty damn essential reading for anyone trying to get a bead on what the hell just happened to America.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Clifford

    I learned a few things, but this book is mostly about Kasparov himself and how brilliant he knows he is. Can't recommend it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    Description: The stunning story of Russia’s slide back into a dictatorship—and how the West is now paying the price for allowing it to happen. The ascension of Vladimir Putin—a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB—to the presidency of Russia in 1999 was a strong signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Yet in the intervening years —as America and the world’s other leading powers have continued to appease him — Putin has grown not only into a dictator but an international threat. Wi Description: The stunning story of Russia’s slide back into a dictatorship—and how the West is now paying the price for allowing it to happen. The ascension of Vladimir Putin—a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB—to the presidency of Russia in 1999 was a strong signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Yet in the intervening years —as America and the world’s other leading powers have continued to appease him — Putin has grown not only into a dictator but an international threat. With his vast resources and nuclear arsenal, Putin is at the center of a worldwide assault on political liberty and the modern world order. For Garry Kasparov, none of this is news. He has been a vocal critic of Putin for over a decade, even leading the pro-democracy opposition to him in the farcical 2008 presidential election. Yet years of seeing his Cassandra-like prophecies about Putin’s intentions fulfilled have left Kasparov with a darker truth: Putin’s Russia, like ISIS or Al Qaeda, defines itself in opposition to the free countries of the world. As Putin has grown ever more powerful, the threat he poses has grown from local to regional and finally to global. In this urgent book, Kasparov shows that the collapse of the Soviet Union was not an endpoint — only a change of seasons, as the Cold War melted into a new spring. But now, after years of complacency and poor judgment, winter is once again upon us. Argued with the force of Kasparov’s world-class intelligence, conviction, and hopes for his home country, Winter Is Coming reveals Putin for what he is: an existential danger hiding in plain sight. Opening: In the middle of the summer in 1989, I gave a long interview to a magazine that practically personified Western decadence in the Soviet imagination: Playboy. But it wasn’t just the publisher of my interview that raised eyebrows in the Soviet Union. Despite the increasing atmosphere of glasnost, openness, between America and the USSR, and the slow loosening of political repression under Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika, my outspoken criticism of Soviet society and my praise for America and Americans in particular were something of a scandal. The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9 was still five months away and largely unimagined. A month after that, Gorbachev and President George H. W. Bush would declare that the USSR and the United States were no longer enemies. But even in this rapidly changing environment my comments sounded close to treason to some in the Kremlin. Communism goes against human nature and can only be sustained by totalitarian repression. Putin, on the other hand, has no use for the people of Russia, especially its young and educated people. He and his junta have turned the country into a petro-state, and exporting natural resources to an insatiable global market doesn’t require entrepreneurs or programmers, let alone writers and professors.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This book is about an important topic, and makes a credible argument, but as a book, it's not particularly good -- essentially a long-form rant. The core message of the book is that the world (Russians, but especially the West, and especially George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and Tony Blair) dropped the ball with Russia in the 1990s, slamming shut the brief window of potential lasting Russian democracy and reform. Rather than doubling down on forcing reforms, the West essentially caved in to Russ This book is about an important topic, and makes a credible argument, but as a book, it's not particularly good -- essentially a long-form rant. The core message of the book is that the world (Russians, but especially the West, and especially George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and Tony Blair) dropped the ball with Russia in the 1990s, slamming shut the brief window of potential lasting Russian democracy and reform. Rather than doubling down on forcing reforms, the West essentially caved in to Russia and didn't press their advantage fully. The only fault with this argument is that Russia was a nuclear power and the first priority of the West was the safety of their own citizens (and the world), by building whatever relationships with Russian power structures were necessary to secure nuclear weapons and limit both proliferation and direct authorized or unauthorized use of those weapons. In any case, it does seem clear the 90s were a unique opportunity in Russia, and that the opportunity was largely squandered.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dalan

    Revelatory book about the rise of Putin in Russia and his dismantling of the fragile democratic setup that was present. Lots of details about Putins overtures and consistent evidence of the West being afraid of calling a spade a spade. I took away two main themes from this book 1. The problem of money without morality: Garry Kasparov lays heavy blame on Europe for buying oil from Russia and thus fueling Putins rise. Similar blame on US for absolving itself of the cause of democracy and just "doi Revelatory book about the rise of Putin in Russia and his dismantling of the fragile democratic setup that was present. Lots of details about Putins overtures and consistent evidence of the West being afraid of calling a spade a spade. I took away two main themes from this book 1. The problem of money without morality: Garry Kasparov lays heavy blame on Europe for buying oil from Russia and thus fueling Putins rise. Similar blame on US for absolving itself of the cause of democracy and just "doing business" with China. I concur, economics and politics are but inter-twined and that linkage should be exploited. 2. Weakening institutions even for a good cause is a bad idea: Boris Yeltsin abused a lot of systems to hack his way to victory in the Russian elections. Russian people were fine with this because it was initially seen as dismantling Soviet era corrupt insitutions and not as the amassment of power that it actually was. These abused systems were then vulnerable to the bigger exploiter in the form of Putin. A lesson for another large democracy perhaps.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christian Anderson

    This book opened my eyes to the effects of Putin on Russia and the world. It changed my world view.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Linda Branham Greenwell

    Quote: "“In my first years as an activist I often said that Putin was a Russian problem for Russians to solve, but that he would soon be a regional problem and then a global problem if his ambitions were ignored. This regrettable transformation has come to pass and lives are being lost because of it. It is cold comfort to be told ‘You were right!’. It is even less comforting when so little is being done to halt Putin’s aggression even now. What is the point of saying you should have listened and Quote: "“In my first years as an activist I often said that Putin was a Russian problem for Russians to solve, but that he would soon be a regional problem and then a global problem if his ambitions were ignored. This regrettable transformation has come to pass and lives are being lost because of it. It is cold comfort to be told ‘You were right!’. It is even less comforting when so little is being done to halt Putin’s aggression even now. What is the point of saying you should have listened and acted when you still aren’t listening and acting?” -- from Introduction to “Winter is Coming” "According to author Garry Kasparov Western appeasers with names like Bush, Merkel, Major, Clinton, Chirac, Obama, Schroder, Berlusconi, Sarkozy have been playing ball with Russian President Vladimir Putin for 15 years now. During the term of his predecessor Boris Yeltsin there had been a short window of opportunity to introduce democratic reforms to Russia and Yeltsin’s efforts met with limited success. Unfortunately, aided and abetted by the aforementioned Western leaders Vladimir Putin has reversed course since 2000 and has fashioned a KGB police state with far-reaching consequences for his own country and for the rest of humanity. Kasparov lays out precisely how we got here from there in his hard-hitting new book “Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World must be Stopped”. This is easily one of the most important books I have read recently." by Paul Tognetti Yes, there is a lot of history and names I didn't know - but the point is "what" is happening - "how" it is happening, and "why" I happened to order this book recently - before the information about Putins involvement in the American election. Good timing. I have always been fearful and concerned about Putin - especially since his submarine war games with Venzeuela in 2008 - scheduled to be in the Gulf of Mexico - and conflicts with Putin over the ownership of the arctic - since it is beginning to melt Our government seems to have turned a blind eye - and tried to approach Putin in a way that you would approach a "normal" head of country. But Putin is NOT a normal head of country. Our approach he has seen as weakness - and he continues to run over us. And now the 2016 Presidential election It has to stop. We must stand up to him. Yes, even with military force - and I am a pacifist. I am like Obama an Idealist. I want to solve problems with "working together" - I detest conflict. "John Lennon's "Imagine" is pretty much my philosophy. But I have read enough about Russia in the past (Yes, I read The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - back in the 1970's) to be wary Kasparov compares him to a mafia don. His driving desire is for money, and power. His instincts are always to bribe, to steal and to eliminate potential adversaries. Compromise and a "restart" button (as Hillary suggested) do not work with him. He laughs at us - and then takes another step toward subduing us Trump is no match - he has already been bribed by Putin. Diplomacy is no match. We must stand up to him and hit him where it hurts. I just hope it is not too late

  29. 4 out of 5

    Doichin Cholakov

    The weeds of evil could grow even on the rubble of the Berlin Wall. It is a paradoxical title. The text is actually trying to be optimistic about the possibility of solutions to the moral ambivalence of present day international politics. An optimism coming at a high personal price given the successive disappointments of the author with the ability of generations of world leaders to be unimpressed by the weeds of evil. I watched Adam Curtis' Bitter Lake while I was reading the book. His main premi The weeds of evil could grow even on the rubble of the Berlin Wall. It is a paradoxical title. The text is actually trying to be optimistic about the possibility of solutions to the moral ambivalence of present day international politics. An optimism coming at a high personal price given the successive disappointments of the author with the ability of generations of world leaders to be unimpressed by the weeds of evil. I watched Adam Curtis' Bitter Lake while I was reading the book. His main premise is that all evil begins with Reagan's doctrine of moral clarity in international politics, which made us blind to all intricacies and nuances. For Kasparov evil started to grow after the giving up of this doctrine, and mostly with Clinton's shift away from international politics, symbolized by his famous elections catch phrase "It's the economy, stupid!" He goes on further and defines a moral compass for a post-cold war world. And the definition is as simple as it is obvious - modernity - since all autocrats are trying to bring us in their time machines on a ride to tsarist times, caliphates or sultanates. It is easy to dismiss the Winter. Not especially well structured, naively ambitious and bitter. Yet it is an extremely important book, coming from someone who knows evil and has fought it in battles which could easily escape our cozy definitions of rationality. It is also extremely timely. Is ISIS really our only enemy? How should we benchmark success? By simply bringing it down? Or maybe by opening up to voices like Kasparovs' and reconsider the international institutions buildup, our strategic alliances and the values that will allow us to have the moral clarity, the right political environment and the resources to address the next time travelers to invite us in their machines.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This book is a must read for anyone interested in learning more about the nature of Vladimir Putin's regime in Russia and the threat it poses to the rest of the world. In Kasparov's view, which is based on his insider's knowledge of Russian history as a dissident in the Putin era, Putin is motivated only by the accumulation of power and money for himself and those close to him. Russia's foreign policy is designed to further those goals rather than a broader Russian national interest. Therefore, This book is a must read for anyone interested in learning more about the nature of Vladimir Putin's regime in Russia and the threat it poses to the rest of the world. In Kasparov's view, which is based on his insider's knowledge of Russian history as a dissident in the Putin era, Putin is motivated only by the accumulation of power and money for himself and those close to him. Russia's foreign policy is designed to further those goals rather than a broader Russian national interest. Therefore, appeals to that interest by Western leaders fall on deaf ears in the Kremlin, and policies of engagement with Russia are more often than not cynically exploited. (The Sochi Winter Olympics are but one example that Kasparov examines.) Kasparov argues that the West's emphasis on engagement and its reluctance to confront Putin amounts to appeasement, and that it will only increase Putin's aggression. He urges that the U.S. and other democratic nations must instead base their foreign policy towards Russia on "modern principles," chief among them universal human rights, and must be willing to risk confrontation with Putin and his regime in the name of those principles. The book is a somewhat dispiriting read for an American who, like me, strongly believes that Donald Trump goes out of his way to appease Putin (in my view, for corrupt motives, which I trust will eventually come to light). But Kasparov's perspective is essential, and I highly recommend the book.

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