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Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia
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Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  213 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Someone has broken into my flat.

Three months after arriving in Russia as the Guardian's new Moscow bureau chief, I return home from a dinner party. At first, everything appears normal.

And then I see it. It is a strange detail. The window of my son's bedroom is wide open. The dark symbolism of the open window is not hard to decipher: take care, or your kids might just fall
...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published September 29th 2011 by Guardian Books (first published 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 462)
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Jan-Maat
This is a bad book.

If you have been a hermit in a cave, don't read or remember foreign news stories, have no knowledge of Russian history or don't assume there is any continuity in human life or believe that life is rather like happy times at the My Little Pony paddock then you may, just, find the contents of this book surprising and revelatory.

Otherwise they read as man from the home counties of England discovers to his shock that foreign country is foreign.

There could be a certain charm to rea
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Zina
‘Putin and his inner circle have no ideology,’ says one of Luke Harding’s useful informants in Mafia State. ‘They are simply interested in making money. They are, in short, kleptocrats.’ This is the central line of this book, written in 2011 and published in 2011. It bears the marks of hurried writing and rushed publication – typos, clumsy phrasing, cliché...Although, it has to be said, that clichés also abound in the quoted excerpts of articles that Harding printed in the pages of the UK newspa ...more
Andrew Robins
I picked this book up in hardback with 75% off at Waterstones, after picking it up, changing my mind and putting it down almost every time I went into a book shop for about six months.

I'm glad I bought it in the end, because it is an excellent account of Putin's Russia, which is, as Harding, the former Guardian man in Moscow, says, a Mafia State. I studied Russia as a student, and wrote my dissertation on Gorbachev, but in the intervening years had not really paid much attention to Russian polit
...more
Maureen
Mafia State is a gripping account of a corrupt government and how those in power will resort to unbelievable devious methods to deter anyone - including foreign journalists - from trying to expose the truth about life in modern Russia.

Luke Harding is an award-winning foreign correspondent with The Guardian. In 2007, the British journalist arrived in Russia to start work as the Guardian's new Moscow bureau chief. Three months after his arrival, he discovered someone had broken into his flat - wh
...more
Jonathan
I really enjoyed Hardings Snowden book so bought this straight after as of course it ties into what is happening with Edward Snowden now. Harding has a hard charging pulpy style that I really enjoy. Perhaps he lays it on a little thick at times but you won't die wondering what he thinks. And indeed I did find it shocking to learn about the routine harassment from the FSB that most diplomats and journalists apparently endure, let alone the appalling murders of local Russian journalists.

Most depr
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Catherine Fitzpatrick
Best when he writes from direct experience, for example when he exposes the daily harassment the foreign community experiences from the FSB -- something everybody knows about and never talks about.

Not as good when he goes over the well-worn stories of the Kremlin's evil deeds like the Litvinenko poisoning because he isn't bringing any new actual investigated journalistic facts. However, I'm not done yet...
RedSaab
The redoubtable and ever-readable Luke Harding delivers a comprehensive and often jaw-dropping expose of the modern Russian State which, according to him is more riddled with corruption and dirty dealing than the mould in blue cheese.

He is especially vitriolic about President Putin whom he deems has brought one of his old KGB operating manuals to bear on the task of (mis)governing the country, and has also signed off a shady Secret Service/Organised crime alliance to do much of his dirty work a
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Vladimir
The field trip reports from Dagestan..Kyrgyzstan with historical/geographical notes are somewhat boring, but the "life of a Guardian reporter in modern Moscow" part compensates for that. I mean, it reads like some oldschool Aksyonov ("Скажи Изюм" with elements of "Московская Сага") -- it's amazing how some things never change in RU.
Alex Marchenko
Якби можна було деталізувати рейтинг:
За переклад: 2 з 5. Це просто жах. Недолуго, невідредаговано, часом здавалось що гугл транслейт виринав між рядків і передавав вітання перекладачу
За стиль (наскільки він вгадався за перекладом): 3 з 5
За фактаж: 5 з 5

Дізналась багато нового, і згадала добре забуте старе.
Robert Goodwin
This is an alarming book which with every chapter reveals how dangerous is the complacency that we have regarded the Dictator and propagandist, Putin. You can tell that this book is a threat to the Russian state because of the blatant attempt to rubbish it on Goodreads by paid Russia PR employees. Who else would write such a huge amount of garbage and give it 1star then 'like' it 20 times? Back to the book, Luke H clearly is fearless and despite frightening Cold War style harassment and his brea ...more
David Goldie
This book told me nothing about life in Russia that isn't widely known already. Waste of reading time.
Kevin Tole
There is an excellent review of this book here on Goodreads by Jan Maat Landlubba (I think it is) which is hard to beat and has little in it which I can disagree with. So I am not going to add a lot to his excellent review.

This is a book of unbelievable naivete from an accredited journo with a growing reputation. It comes across as a series of bleating bleedings about how wrong it all is, and reads like a spoiled teenager shouting 'ITS NOT FAIR'. It is poorly researched and rests firmly on the
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Richard Botto
[Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia] is a great account of how Russia has fallen under dictatorial control of Vladamir Putin and the countries secret service, the FSB. It also covers the harassment the author, Luke Harding, suffered at the hands of the FSB while serving as the Guardian's Moscow correspondent. While the book is primarily an account of Harding's time in Russia, it provides excellent historical context of Russia transition from the USSR to the ca ...more
Hub Masaq
A good read, not necessarily the most in depth or possibly balanced; as other reviews have pointed out: there is a very good case for foreign powers having sponsored the 'Orange revolution' and fellow Brits who follow such things will have winced slightly at the recent admission from a former Downing street official that "..The spy rock was embarrassing. They had us bang to rights" as a good example.

Of course none of the above could ever remotely justify the deaths of journalists and human right
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Leo Passaportis
A fascinating read by someone who was there to witness and observe Putin's Russia first hand. Harding zealously follows his subjects and the issues of the day to wherever it/they transpire to occur. It really is grossly unfair to suggest that Harding is a "small-minded Englishman" as one critic has dubbed him in his review. Like a good journalist he reads widely and cites views and opinions from credible and authoratative sources and generally avoids sensationalism and subjective analysis. So mu ...more
Steve
A fantastic read - absolutely superb demolition of Putin and Putinism...
Fraser Dyer
Fascinating and disturbing in equal measure
Scott
A solid book, and terribly interesting in its first-hand account of FSB spy craft and harassment at the beginning of the work and its conclusion. However, too much of the middle suffers from 3rd-eye "journalism". And for someone who spoke Russian, Harding doesn't get out of Moscow more than a couple times to describe the rural areas of the country. Anna Politkovskaya's book, Putin's Russia, is a better read (and she was murdered for writing it), so I would suggest that one as a superior entry.
Silvia
Very easy to read, great descriptions of travels and life in Russia. Very good points about Russia from a political point of view (I'm sure many will unjustly call him a Russophobe), some very good predictions of what was to come in Ukraine. It is slightly repetitive and by no means a book for experts in Russian politics. But it is enjoyable for anyone interested in Russia.
Eric
A British journalist describes how his reporting causes him to fall out of favor with the Russian authorities. Offers insights into the current Russian regime's links with state security apparatuses of the past, and how many Soviet-era techniques to intimidate anyone viewed as opposition are very much still in use. A worthwhile read that's also got humorous moments.
Roy
An excellent and grim look into the increasingly authoritarian regime of Putin, and how he and his cronies seem to have set themselves up into a self-perpetuating oligarchy, just like the previous Communist regime. Read most of this while traveling through Ukraine and Russia this year, so it felt particularly relevant.
Paul Cheney
Scary stuff. Very scary stuff.

Harding was the recipient of a campaign of harassment from the FSB. His flat was continually broken into, and he was deported before being let back in.

Also an excellent piece of investigative journalism, looking at the horrific human rights abuses that the Russian government is carrying out
Nazila Khalkhali
Actually, it's scary. I don't like Communism and Russian politics. But today, what's going on in the Middle East, I'm more scared because I see how Middle East becomes the scene for the two powers. Everyone is looking for its own share. Nobody cares the people who are suffering.
Pk
This book has given me a brief recent history of Putin's Russia and the turmoil many of the people are in currently. Pogroms in the south, suicide bombers in Moscow and economic disparity unlike anything I've ever known about throughout the Russian countryside.

Luca
A great insight by Like Harding regarding "modern" Russia and the methods used by Putin and the Russian government and the secret police to control and suppress information and what's really going on now days in Russia.
Julija L.
i dont think this book required a lot of background knowledge about russia. i quiet enjoyed it and was fascinated by the amount of detailed info on putin and his regime. i think it was an eye opener for me.
Elizabeth Soutar
Provides fascinating insights in to the Putin regime and the rise of the Federal Security Bureau of Russia and its differentiation from its predecessor the KGB.
Alan Fricker
Intermittently interesting where it deals with some of the wider conflicts around russia. Sometimes reads a bit too like a set of diary notes
James
Interesting first hand account on the challenges of being a foreign correspondent in Putin's Russia.
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Luke Daniel Harding is a British journalist working as a foreign correspondentfor The Guardian. He was the correspondent of The Guardian in Russia from 2007 until, returning from a stay in the UK on February 5, 2011, he was refused re-entry to Russia and deported back the same day. The Guardian said his expulsion was linked with his critical articles on Russia, while Russia's foreign ministry said ...more
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“The threat of a terrorist attack in Moscow is real enough - a constant beneath the surface. But another, more palpable form of intimidation stalks the city's streets. It targets those from the Caucasus - no longer perpetrators but victims - as well as anyone of non-Slavic descent. This spectre is Russian nationalism, furiously asserting itself.” 0 likes
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