Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia by Joshua Yaffa

Given some of the hysterical writing about Russia over the past few years, one might expect a visit to Moscow to be like the experience of being kidnapped and dropped on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang: brigades of soldiers goose-stepping down clean wide boulevards surrounded by authoritarian iconography.

But New Yorker journalist Joshua Yaffa, the author of an excellent book on Putin’s Russia, Between Two Fires, would have you know that Moscow can be a wonderful place. While the cliché is true, writes Yaffa, that “in Moscow … the streets were designed not for people but for tanks,” at the same time the city vibrates with “the energy of wholesale reinvention.” Describing his many recent visits to the city, Yaffa recalls that “the people I met were hungry, curious, adventurous, unbound by rules and expectations … ”