Winter is Coming: Book Review

By David Michael Newstead.

Winter is Coming is a call to action by chess champion Garry Kasparov. As a prominent opposition activist and former presidential candidate, Kasparov has unique insights into Russian politics and a bitter disdain for the Putin regime, calling Vladimir Putin a “shadow of a man”. In his new book, Kasparov lays out Russia’s recent history with a mixture of observations, pointed criticism, and details on his life experience from the breakup of the Soviet Union to the present.

This includes major events like Boris Yeltsin’s re-election in 1996 as well as things that only proved to be significant in retrospect. Namely, the rise of President Putin and the steady rollback of Russia’s democratic reforms. Kasparov then outlines how the Putin regime “moved from being an ideologically agnostic kleptocracy to using blatantly fascist propaganda and tactics.” Here’s an excerpt.

In Anatomy of Fascism, Robert Paxton includes in his concise definition “the belief that one’s group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies, both internal and external.” The myth of Russian humiliation at Western, especially American, hands fits the victimhood model perfectly. The false narrative that Russia is surrounded by enemies who are intent on holding it back fills Putin’s need for fuel for his increasingly fascist propaganda.

And although he goes on to label Putin’s Russia as the biggest and most dangerous threat facing the world today, Kasparov offers numerous criticisms of Western governments for their mistakes, inaction, and naive hopes that repressive leaders can be charmed into changing for the better. His solution is to isolate dictatorships around the world and to keep human rights at the center of our policies or risk reliving the outcomes of appeasement.

Throughout the book, Kasparov’s views are passionate and uncompromising. Whether they are actually correct, only time will tell.

Read Winter is Coming

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