Peter Reddaway and Dmitri Glinsky, The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms: Market Bolshevism Against Democracy (Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2001), 745 pp., $29.95.
Paul Klebnikov, Godfather of the Kremlin: Boris Berezovsky and the Looting of Russia (New York: Harcourt Brace, 2000), 400 pp., $28.
Stephen F. Cohen, Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000), 304 pp., $21.95.
The Russian revolution of the 1990s was rather like a Hollywood poltergeist movie. Mysterious, hidden forces moved enormous quantities of property from place to place, spectacularly destroying much of it and the surrounding landscape in the process. Colossal industries and vast sums of money vanished into thin air. So too did millions of lives, but since these mostly belonged to unimportant extras--pensioners, children, workers, soldiers, Chechens--the Western audience could gasp with pleasurable horror while continuing to munch its popcorn.
There is even some sketchy appearance of the obligatory happy ending. What is left of the property has returned to earth and is firmly tied down by someone or other. The victims go on being quietly buried. The teenage poltergeists too have settled down. These "bold young reformers", as the more gullible or fanatical sections of the Western media never ceased to dub them, were evidently too young to exercise moral judgment, and must be left in undisturbed enjoyment of their stolen property. Innocent victims of forces beyond their control, they are being rehabilitated into the Western economic community with the help of distinguished American pr firms. And every Russian can take comfort in the fact that the biggest poltergeist of all now runs the Russian electricity system.