The end of the Cold War was supposed to be a story of unalloyed triumph for the West. Even those who didn’t go as far as declaring ‘the end of history’ saw it as a turning point, hoping a new global order would emerge with a more democratic Russia and a Europe free from the threat of Soviet totalitarianism. Although there was some transformation in Russia after the Iron Curtain fell, it seems it couldn’t let go for long. Election meddling, assassinations, military incursions – since Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, the deep state has re-emerged and old enemies are again facing off with Russia’s autocratic leadership. As the country stalks its neighbours and taunts the world, does it know any other way? Has Russia’s future been stolen by its past, destined to always be the villain the West loves to hate?
Masha Gessen is a journalist and the author of ten books of nonfiction, most recently The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which won the 2017 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Gessen is also the author of the national bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012). A staff writer at The New Yorker and the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Carnegie Fellowship, Gessen teaches at Amherst College, and lives in New York City.