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Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  133 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Anticipating a new dawn of freedom after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russians could hardly have foreseen the reality of their future a decade later: a country impoverished and controlled at every level by organized crime. This riveting book views the 1990s reform period through the experiences of individual citizens, revealing the changes that have swept Russia ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published September 10th 2004 by Yale University Press (first published April 10th 2003)
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May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: governance
It's difficult to know what happened to Russia. It's difficult to fully follow her path from past to present, as she shook off the reins of an arcane and oppressive system of government in trade for ostensible transparency and a free-market economy. The shift was too cataclysmic: too big, too fast, too destructive and, most of all, too high-handed for any external eye to track. What information we possess is largely journalistic, and is limited to the period of time in which journalism was still ...more
E.A. Amant
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A manager at work—we were doing some idiotic back and forth trash talk—shushed me in public. Teasing him, I had said that the island of Malta had been first settled by English retards. He was Maltese. These days, no one likes to hear the word ‘retard’. It was lame, I know, but I retorted with a shout, “Shut up, this ain't Russia!” And standing directly behind me was a Russian emigrant, new to the country, who took offence at my reckless cliché. However, whether naive or not, he knew exactly to w ...more
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A tale only half told: by this I mean that while Satter has done an excellent job of outlining the corrupt regime of modern Russia, he has left out an important player which shares equally in the moral miasma of modern Muscovy. A hint is provided in the rave review by Strobe Talbott, the man who said "the Soviet Union needed a wrecking ball."

The subtext of Satter's gripping account is full of Western moralizing. As usual, this nicely excludes the responsibility of the West, particularly the US,
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me a lot of Anna Politkovskaya's writing's on Russia, with a more detached view from the long-time American journalist of things Kremlin (and the first foreign reporter kicked out of Russia since the end of the Cold War for those writings).
The section that really caught my eye was the section on the apartment bombings in September 1999 that started the 2nd Chechnya War and greased Putin's rise to power. I've heard accusations that is was, as conspiratorists said, an inside jo
Nicki Schwenkbeck
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Highly recommend this book, especially considering that some in the upcoming administration favor positive relations with Putin. It seems that most Americans stopped caring much about what was happening in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union and how the shock of completely unregulated capitalism had nearly catastrophic results for most common Russian citizens. The way in which corrupt officials and criminals exploited the fears and anxieties of regular Russians in order to enrich themselve ...more
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book could in some ways be classified as "horror-non-fiction". To see how in, fewer than 300 pages, a world superpower has gone from an empire to a nation with a declining population, virtually non-existent public services, and organized crime syndicates that are a parallel government is down right scary. ...more
Very readable and recent history of the rise of the criminal influence in Russian government following the downfall of the Soviet Union. Really uses his understanding of Russian psychology gained by years as the Moscow correspondent for the WSJ to give insight into what happened and why.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Scary, detailed, and worth reading.
Fernanda Santos
me fue imposible leer este libro si pensar en Venezuela,sorprende el parecido entre los dos países,no por las mejore razones.Corrupción,persecución a los medios de comunicación independientes,violaciones a los derechos humanos,mafias enquistadas en el gobierno,uf! asusta el parecido,bueno,por lo menos no moriremos congelados en el trópico.
Não gostei muito do estilo da escrita do autor, não achei muito organizado. Mas é uma excelente recoleção de histórias, histórias assustadoras que todos deveríamos ler. Recomendo.
Jade Clark
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You just fall right into this book. Given the subject it’s a very easy read.
Dec 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Great read, the author uses narrative histories of Russians to illustrate facets of Russian life after the fall of the Soviet Union, when eager "capitalists" reformed the economy as only Russians could. Without regard for rule of law, they implemented harsh, homicidal even, reforms that lead to the current criminal oligarchy. ...more
Apr 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
holy shit this book was good.
i had never read anything like it but it totally opened my eyes to so many levels of corruption that existed after the collapse of the Soviety Union. so much messed up stuffed was happening just a few years ago..and i had NO IDEA.
J.K. George
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013-books
I probably should have rated this book better, as it's well written, but it's so darned depressing and repetitive that it's one I started skimming. If Russia really resembles this picture, then it's a hopeless situation. ...more
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Absolutely horrifying, frightening to see what can be done to a population with no chance of retribution.
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David Satter is senior fellow, Hudson Institute, and fellow, Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He was Moscow correspondent for the Financial Times from 1976 to 1982, then a special correspondent on Soviet affairs for the Wall Street Journal.

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“Bribery quickly became an integral part of the Russian way of doing business, and the expense of buying a government official was considered the most important part of a new enterprise’s starting capital.” 0 likes
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