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The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia
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The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia

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4.12  ·  Rating details ·  448 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
David Hoffman, former Moscow bureau chief for The Washington Post, sheds light onto the hidden lives of Russia's most feared power brokers: the oligarchs. Focusing on six of these ruthless men Hoffman reveals how a few players managed to take over Russia's cash-strapped economy and then divvy it up in loans-for-shares deals.

Before perestroika, these men were normal Sovie
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Paperback, 575 pages
Published December 23rd 2003 by PublicAffairs (first published 2002)
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Nick
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Watching Vladimir Putin preside over the opening of the Sochi Olympics, a glorious spectacle that pointedly included the hammer-and-sickle era, it was difficult to recall just what kind of chaos had descended on Russia during the nineties, a bare decade-and-a half before. David E. Hoffman's "The Oligarchs" is a pertinent reminder of just what it took for Russia to emerge from the collapse of the Soviet empire. He focuses here on the emergence, seemingly overnight, of immense fortunes in banking, ...more
Mike
Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Like Hoffman's book The Dead Hand which concerns the Cold War and the Soviet's efforts at biological and nuclear weapons, The Oligarchs both boasts and suffers from Hoffman's skills and lack thereof in certain areas. There is no question that Hoffman is an astute researcher: in both books, he has dug up information that perhaps no other author writing in English has ever taken into account and there is probably no better, more-detailed, a book on the rise of the core group of oligarchs in Yeltsi ...more
Frank Stein
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a fascinating, if overlong, look at the corrupt billionaires that emerged unexpectedly out of the collapse of the Soviet state. Although the sprawling cast of secondary figures in the book summons the inevitable comparison to a Russian novel, David Hoffman focuses on just a handful of major characters, all of whom seemed destined for anonymity when Gorbachev began his "perestroika" campaign in 1985.

Vladimir Gusinsky was a failed theater director driving a taxi when he decided to st
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Mubeen Irfan
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
USSR was all but gone when I was a child and when I was able to decipher the conversations around me, Boris Yeltsin was the name that I heard the most. However, there was a very limited interest in Russian politics in Pakistan because the general population felt we have achieved our purpose of dismantling USSR and thus whatever turmoil is happening now in Russia, we can just sit back and let it slide by.

It also did not affect us because we were a pro-American country and looked up to the US for
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Dan
Jun 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Overall solid history of the rise of Russian oligarchy and their effect on (and eventual entanglement with) politics from the fall of the Union to the rise of Putin in the early 90s. Hoffman is a sharp writer with a good eye for color detail.

The first half holds short introductory blurbs for each oligarch, establishing how they got started. The second half is a unified narrative bringing these characters through the tumult of the 90s. This format makes the book feel shorter than it actually is a
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catinca.ciornei
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Riveting detailed story about the main Russian oligarchs, retold by a master journalist storyteller. Captivating in many ways - historically, economically, politically; larger than life figures in an unique historical moment, that of the fall of the Soviet Union. Also a great story about really unbridled capitalism, and power of 'fake' news. Interesting read especially given today's major political (USA) and social topics.
Alex Snyatkov
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Well researched and well written history of six Moscow oligarchs, how they came to exorbitant money, power and eventually fell. It was very interesting to learn about what was happening backstage when I watched events of crazy "Democracy and Capitalism Now!" play staged on the streets of Moscow. However, I think this book will look boring for anybody who wasn't present in Russia during 90s.
Anya
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very informative book regarding Russia's richest businessmen in modern Russia. A lot to remember, but revealing of what makes the Russian economy including political webs, Soviet values, and big personalities. Impressive journalism.
Salparadise7
Jun 05, 2017 rated it liked it
it was ite
Lexi
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dense, thorough and very well written. A lot about the changing systems during after perestroika and the Yeltsin era which could have been dry, but the author kept it interesting.
Bradplumer
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In 1991, after the Soviet Union dissolved, a band of Russian officials were debating how best to privatize all the industries that had been state-owned for 70 years. Economists said “Auction them off!" But who would buy the factories? Who even had the cash? Others suggested bequeathing the companies to their managers and workers. But the man in charge of privatization, Anatoly Chubais, worried that would just perpetuate the old Soviet system. And he needed to smash that system, quickly and perma ...more
Haur Bin
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Very interestingly put together stories of a bunch of opportunistic oligarchs who rushed through the door during the collapse of Communism in Soviet Union to grab as much as possible for themselves with the help of Yeltsin's government (Luzhkov and Chubais) and ultimately propelled themselves into positions of unimaginable wealth & power.

The author chronicled clearly starting from the mass discontent and shortages during Communist Soviet Union. The failed system led to the rise of Yeltsin's
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Joe
This is a fascinating book, but a chore to read. Hoffman packs it with details about the oligarchs, but the narrative is hard to follow, because it is bogged down with so many facts. The first few chapters are the best, as they tell the initial rags to riches stories of the various men. The rest of it is like a laundry list of transactions, one after another, with mind-boggling amounts of money changing hands in bewildering ways. OK. OK. I get it: so this super rich guy one-upped his super rich ...more
Sandy
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely scintillating look at the state of Russia in the 1990s as it emerged from 70 years of central planning and totalitarianism and tried to grope its way to the establishment of a truly free market and thriving democracy. Hoffman profiles some of the major figures who shaped this tumultuous, but exciting era in Russian history, and the ways in which they made (or stole) their fortunes to become some of the biggest players in Russian business and politics. I like that Hoffman devotes an en ...more
Matt
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, history
Hoffman details the rise of six Russian oligarchs from the decline of the Soviet Union until the emergence of Putin. It is truly a shocking and incredible story. Gorbachev began to liberalize the Soviet economy by allowing the formation of cooperatives that could engage in capitalist business enterprises. A few of the successful cooperative managers didn't have any place to put their money and started banks. The banks benefitted from easy money policies and found ways to exploit the Soviet comma ...more
Shawn
May 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
To understand the Putin machine is to understand how Russia went from the Soviet collapse to the present. This very well researched and lively account of the Yeltsin years shows how ambitious upstarts made their way to the top and how Moscow's influence was bought and traded. No reformer, entrepreneur and idealist made it out with their soul intact. My questions: Why did Goldman, Merril and Morgan continue to pump billions into Russia after the 1998 ruble/GKO devaluation? Were they that desperat ...more
Eric Logan
Nov 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Should be required reading in every economics class in America. Fascinating account of the breakup of the soviet socialist system and the intelligentsia who engineered and managed both the collapse and subsequent capitalist reforms and rebuilding of the Russian economy. Especially relevant today with some historical perspective of the individual fates from Khodorkovsky's imprisonment to Berezovski's exile in England and the intrigue surrounding his attachment to the Litvinenko case.

America's rec
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Nic Adams
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An exceptionally well researched book on the turbulent times in Russia's recent history - the 80's and the 90's when Yeltsin led Russia into capitalism that allowed a number of people to acquire great wealth, not always through legal means........and the implications of their hunger for more which ultimately resulted in them losing almost everything if not all.............
David E. Hoffman was in Russia at the time and his reporting of the trials and tribulations of the people in the government,
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Mutar
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It comes to no surprise that this book was extremely dangerous and difficult to write. The amount of careful yet accurate research carried out is remarkable. The odd knowledge gaps here and there are a reminder of the society David is dealing with.
I rarely give 5 stars but as someone who knew little or close to nothing on this area, I have taken so much away from this book and therefore enjoyed every page.
His style of writing is lovely and his analyses are concise and coherent. I feel highly co
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Kotinka
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.

It's excellent on the very shadowy period between Perestroika and the bandit Capitalism of the 90's and carries these high standards through to the last pages covering the rise of Mr Putin. The history verges on the unbelievable in itself, and this book has combined that narrative with fluent, flowing prose that sweep you through this incredible period in the history of Russia and indeed the history of Capitalism.

This would be one of the first books I would recommend to anybod
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Cruiseportatlas.com JohnMorn
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
With the fall of Communism, an economic Wild West took hold during the 1990s. This books describes the chaos of that time and the personalities that shaped it. When I read about wealth, I ask myself why did these people rise so high? To me this book shows that luck plays a primary role. The men described are certainly smart, but they can hardly be called geniuses. The one trait they all seem to have is a ruthless and obsessive egotism.
Joe Wisniewski
Feb 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very easy read ... probably needs to be read more than once to get all the players right. I wish authors who do this kind of historical biographies with lots of players would insert a "score card" in order to tell who the players are/were and their roles and/or relationships. Would make it a heck of a lot easier to follow.

The bookd does reflect the massive upheavel going on in the Soviet Union and Russia and the CIS in the early 90s.
Alasdair
Oct 11, 2009 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the style of this book - a mixture of personal stories and harder data brought the story alive. However, it became a bit repetitive and the ending was perhaps somewhat unsatisfying. At least in part this was because the ending had not yet happened at the time of printing. It did give a great insight into the trauma of, and the delicate and fragile state of the Soviet reforms and a pointer towards why Russia is how it is today. A truly fascinating story, well articulated.
John Branney
Aug 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I thought the author did a great job researching and writing this book. From that perspective, good job, however, I also thought the book was incredibly boring. I was hoping that the book would possess more intrigue, but it did not. By the end of the book, I was so bored and so confused by the numerous Russian names it became drudgery.

Three stars, mostly for the writing skill of the author.
AskHistorians
A very well-written account of the rise of the current Russian inner-circle in the highest echelons of power under Putin in the years during the downfall of the Soviet Union. Starts with short biographies of the 6 main players in this history, and then gives a fascinating detailed account of their accumulation of and fights for power.
Victoria Sadler
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a big book -500 pages. But rather than bring metaphorically heavy as well, the book is written in an engaging, conversational style though it's packed with facts. Incredibly the author got interviews with some of the oligarchs as part if his research. Excellent and suitably sceptical on the shadowy world of Russia in the 1990s
Chris
Sep 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
So far, a fascinating portrait of Russian economics, politics, and culture during the transition from the Soviet era that is told in a factually exhaustive and informative manner while being very humanizing of the real characters portrayed therein. Not a light read.
Michael
Sep 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great book that gives some good insights into the new Russia. Most people think bringing down the Berlin wall was the start of the revolution but it started years before that. Also the cold war did not have as much impact as socialism did on the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Mary
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gleaned a remarkable amount of history and naked strategy to grab power in this book. Helps me understand our own oligarchs like Trump and the Koch's and Soros and others. This is the 1% side of the story to Anne Garrell's story of the 99% in Putin Country.
Saurabh
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Stunning piece of research. Even for people with no interest in current affairs or history it will hold the readers rapt attention. Explains how Russia became what it is. Reads like a crime novel thoroughly spellbinding.
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David E. Hoffman covered Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign for the Knight-Ridder newspapers. In 1982, he joined The Washington Post to help cover the Reagan White House. He also covered the first two years of the George H.W. Bush presidency. His White House coverage won three national journalism awards. After reporting on the State Department, he became Jerusalem bureau chief for The Pos ...more
More about David E. Hoffman...