Historian Andrei Amalrik, in his 1970 essay Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984, predicted that it wouldn’t. He was wrong — but only by seven years. Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika, followed by Boris Yeltsin’s radical revocation of communism, dislocated most citizens of the erstwhile USSR summarily into Amalrik’s predicted state of confusion and near-chaos. The void would be filled by an opportunist, a man rising from the ranks of the KGB. Now, as Sana Krasikov phrases it in her 2017 novel, The Patriots, "Vladimir Vladimirovich and his judo partners have everyone in their chokehold." Myriad books and articles have documented Vladimir Putin’s ambiguous amalgamation of Stalin and czar, exposing him as the master puppeteer behind outright malevolence both domestically and in many corners of the globe. And Masha Gessen’s The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia is a noteworthy addition, with a structure that sets it apart. Her approach is to focus on...

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