The Future Is History

How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
Narrated by: Masha Gessen
Length: 16 hrs and 45 mins
Categories: History, Europe
4.5 out of 5 stars (720 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the 2017 National Book Award in Nonfiction
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Awards
Winner of the New York Public Library's Helen Bernstein Book Award
Named a Best Book of 2017 by The New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Seattle Times, Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, Paste, and Pop Sugar 

The essential journalist and best-selling biographer of Vladimir Putin reveals how, in the space of a generation, Russia surrendered to a more virulent and invincible new strain of autocracy.   

Award-winning journalist Masha Gessen's understanding of the events and forces that have wracked Russia in recent times is unparalleled. In The Future Is History, Gessen follows the lives of four people born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. Each of them came of age with unprecedented expectations, some as the children and grandchildren of the very architects of the new Russia, each with newfound aspirations of their own - as entrepreneurs, activists, thinkers, and writers, sexual and social beings.   

Gessen charts their paths against the machinations of the regime that would crush them all, and against the war it waged on understanding itself, which ensured the unobstructed reemergence of the old Soviet order in the form of today's terrifying and seemingly unstoppable mafia state. Powerful and urgent, The Future Is History is a cautionary tale for our time and for all time.

©2017 Masha Gessen (P)2017 Penguin Audio
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  • Overall
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If you can keep the characters straight...

This book was not only a valuable insight into the government and people of Russia in the present-day, but also a deep philosophical exploration of what totalitarianism is and means, how it happens, and how over time a regime can systematically go about exterminating those with the will and means to resist them. This is a MUST read for anyone who wants to understand post-USSR Russia. I wish there was a book like this one for every country in the world.

19 people found this helpful

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Gessen humanizes modern Russians

A human history of post Soviet Union Russia told through the intimate coming of age stories of seven Russian youths. Though her characters are real the telling of their stories reads more like a great Russian novel. Brilliant work of history, psychology, and, sadly, effective statecraft.

11 people found this helpful

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The author is an international treasure

I learned so much reading this book. It put much of what I see happening in Russia and the United States into new perspective for me.The material is very accessible. The characters in the story is compelling. I couldn't put it down. I was sad when I came to the end. I'm looking forward to her next book.
Signed, a grateful reader

31 people found this helpful

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History made human rather than abstract

By focusing on the lives of a handful of real Russians caught up in the changes sweeping across their country, Gessen helps to make the events around the rise of Putin understandable in human terms. This is a wonderfully written work and, although authors often don't make the best narrarators of their own work, her distinctive voice complements what she has to say about how Putin has snuffed out hopes for a more liberal and open Russia.

8 people found this helpful

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Book was great. But.....

I really think this is a matter of narration. Gessen’s book is great. But someone else should have read it. Her voice is very sing songy and she didn’t sometimes follow punctuation, so it made it difficult to focus. I got used to it about 5 hours in, but I would have preferred less distraction.

13 people found this helpful

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A Great Reminder to Pay Attention

This piece is an interesting history lesson and an important reminder to pay attention to current events. Things can take a quick turn for the worse if we let them.

5 people found this helpful

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DS

A great read for those who want to understand recent history of Russia. The book describes real lives of several Russians on the backdrop of historic events.

10 people found this helpful

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eye opening

it seems to me that there were two books in this body of work. one is a history of several Russian individuals coping with the inexorable decline in Russia into a Totalitarian state. The other book was interpreting the decline from a psychoanalytical perspective. I thought the elements of the book clashed.

4 people found this helpful

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Compelling and Thought-Provoking

I am a great fan of Masha Gessen and enjoyed (if that is the right word) this tale of Russia and oppression under Putin. Gessen narrates the book which was an added benefit for me. The only downside was not having something printed to help me keep straight the Russian names and characters. Obviously, this would have been solved by having the hard copy, but I did greatly enjoy the listening experience in spite of that.

My favorite parts of the book are Gessen's analysis of and review of writings about the nature of totalitarianism. Looking back historically as well as forward, these reflections are instructive and chilling.

Gessen vests the greater historical and political story in the lives of several real characters whose experience, courage, and sacrifices are movingly told. Especially striking are the events that illustrate how an oppressive rule consumes its populace and creates dysfunction--and pain--throughout the society.

4 people found this helpful

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A compelling and important book

The content and the format of this book make it compelling. I listened to it as I read the text. Excellent.

6 people found this helpful