MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Summary and book reviews of Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen

Surviving Autocracy

by Masha Gessen

Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen X
Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Jun 2020, 272 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A bestselling, National Book Award–winning journalist's bracing elucidation of our tumultuous times.

In the run-up to the 2016 election, Masha Gessen stood out from other journalists for the ability to convey the ominous significance of Donald Trump's speech and behavior, unprecedented in a national candidate. Within forty-eight hours of his victory, the essay "Autocracy: Rules for Survival" had gone viral, and Gessen's coverage of his norm-smashing presidency became essential reading for a citizenry struggling to wrap their heads around the unimaginable. Thanks to the special perspective that is the legacy of a Soviet childhood and two decades covering the resurgence of totalitarianism in Russia, Gessen has a sixth sense for signs of autocracy—and the unique cross-cultural fluency to delineate its emergence to Americans. Now, as the 2020 race takes shape, this incisive book provides an indispensable overview of the calamitous trajectory of the past few years. Gessen not only highlights the corrosion of the media, the judiciary, and the cultural norms we hoped would save us but also tells us the story of how a short few years have changed us, from a people who saw ourselves as a nation of immigrants to a populace haggling over a border wall, heirs to a degraded sense of truth, meaning, and possibility. Surviving Autocracy is an inventory of ravages but also a beacon to recovery—or to enduring, and resisting, an ongoing assault.

1.
What Do We Call It?

It could have been any week of the Trump presidency—a week when he kept contradicting the government's experts on the COVID-19 pandemic, or a week when he was railing against Supreme Court justices, or a week when he humiliated his own cabinet members in public. Take one week in October 2019. It was a month into the impeachment inquiry in Congress and just over a thousand days into Donald Trump's presidency. The acting ambassador to Ukraine, William B. Taylor, Jr., testified about waging a losing battle against Trump and his people to pursue a foreign agenda consistent with government policy and practice. House Republicans stormed a closed impeachment-inquiry hearing in a bizarre direct action of Congress members against congressional practice. Trump's personal attorney William Consovoy argued in court that his client was immune from any prosecution—including, hypothetically, for murdering someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue—as...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

There have been numerous narratives of the Trump presidency published in recent months that simply rehash the major events of the past four years and offer aggrieved commentary on various injustices but little else of substance. Gessen does recount some of these events (in a time frame spanning Trump's election up to the impeachment hearings), but also presents a compelling thesis, that the president is intentionally working to erode public faith in any facet of government that is not him, and then meticulously supports it with evidence. Gessen powerfully rebukes critics who have claimed at various points that Trump might mature into his role or that he might be too incompetent to do any lasting damage to the country, declaring, "Trump's incompetence is militant. It is not a factor that might mitigate the threat he poses: it is the threat itself."..continued

Full Review Members Only (765 words).

(Reviewed by Lisa Butts).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Many writers have chronicled the Trump administration's missteps and crimes, but few as concisely as Gessen...Gessen is a Suetonius for our time, documenting the death of the old America while holding out slim hope for its restoration.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Gessen's meticulous research and familiarity with the political and cultural history of post-Soviet Russia lend her arguments an authority lacking in other takedowns of Trump. Liberals looking to make sense of what they're up against in the 2020 elections should consider this a must-read.

Booklist (starred review)
Gessen's is a clarion voice in the darkness, offering a sobering but sharp-witted analysis of how American society has changed under Trump...[her] rallying cry is a vital and pressing reminder of what's at stake.

Author Blurb Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny
An indispensable voice of and for this moment.

Reader Reviews

Victoria

Another winner by Masha Gessen
Masha Gessen really nailed it. I’m not much for politics and haven’t read too many Trump-focused books because I found that a frustrating and unappealing topic. I picked this up mainly due to author recognition. But it was great. Ms. Gessen’s ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Viktor Orbán and Hungary's "Illiberal Democracy"

Mike Pompeo and Viktor Orbán meeting in Hungary, 2019 In Surviving Autocracy, Masha Gessen places the presidency of Donald Trump in an international context, drawing comparisons with other world leaders who have demonstrated a penchant for authoritarianism and oligarchy. One of these leaders is Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who has been the subject of scrutiny and ire (but little action) from the European Union.

Viktor Orbán served his first term as prime minister from 1998 to 2002, after which control shifted to the Hungarian Socialist Party, led by Prime Minister Péter Medgyessy. The Socialist Party's administration was marred by scandal and economic mismanagement, and Orbán, running as the representative of the conservative Fidesz Party, was voted in for...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Masha Gessen

If you liked Surviving Autocracy, try these:

  • Between Two Fires jacket

    Between Two Fires

    by Joshua Yaffa

    Published 2020

    About this book

    From a leading journalist in Moscow and correspondent for The New Yorker, a groundbreaking portrait of modern Russia and the inner struggles of the people who sustain Vladimir Putin's rule.

  • Beautiful Country Burn Again jacket

    Beautiful Country Burn Again

    by Ben Fountain

    Published 2019

    About this book

    More books by this author

    In a sweeping work of reportage set over the course of 2016, New York Times bestselling author Ben Fountain recounts a surreal year of politics and an exploration of the third American existential crisis.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Vanishing Half
    The Vanishing Half
    by Brit Bennett
    Brit Bennett's second novel, The Vanishing Half (after The Mothers, her 2016 bestselling debut), ...
  • Book Jacket
    Tropic of Violence
    by Nathacha Appanah
    Marie is a nurse working in Mayotte, a cluster of French territory islands in the Indian Ocean. When...
  • Book Jacket: Death in Mud Lick
    Death in Mud Lick
    by Eric Eyre
    When Eric Eyre, investigative and statehouse reporter for the Charleston Gazette-Daily, began ...
  • Book Jacket
    Orange World and Other Stories
    by Karen Russell
    Karen Russell has a tremendous gift for crafting uncanny, through-the-looking glass worlds that are ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Prisoner's Wife
    by Maggie Brookes

    Inspired by the true story of a courageous young woman who enters a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Paris Hours
by Alex George

One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The House on Fripp Island

The House on Fripp Island
by Rebecca Kauffman

A taut, page-turning novel of secrets and strife.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

M's T W!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.