David Satter's new book is The Less You Know, The Better You Sleep: Russia's Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin. From his Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You begin the book with an examination of the 1999 apartment bombings in Russia. Why did you choose to start with this?The Page 99 Test: It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway.
A: The apartment bombings were actually the most important event in Russian history in the last 25 years. They aren’t understood as such because many in the West are not willing to face the implications…
It’s the greatest political provocation since the burning of the Reichstag. [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin would have had no chance at [taking over] were it not for this attack. Putin was able to depict himself as a savior…
Q: Why would you say people in the West are unwilling to face it?
A: It’s a difficult thing for Western people to imagine. We are accustomed to elections with dirty tricks, or where one candidate will show a nasty picture of another’s wife, or where a candidate will call another nasty names.
But it doesn’t...[read on]