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This is the first account of Russia's second revolution - the country's dramatic, wrenching transition from communist central planning to a market economy. Written by one of the finest writers on contemporary Russia, it is told by interweaving high politics with glimpses of the revolution's impact on the lives of ordinary people. Beginning with a sharp portrayal of the dismal living conditions in the Soviet Union, she moves on to the romantic early days of the capitalist transformation. This was the height of market euphoria when, despite the chaos of everyday life, a prosperous future seemed within easy reach. Woven through the book are remarkable stories - of Yeltsin's use of popular psychics, of the might of the 'robber barons' who form alliances with criminal mafia gangs, of Machiavellian politicians who 'have dealt with the devil and believe they have made a good bargain'. In the final stage of the book, Freeland chronicles the end of the first wave of Russia's capitalist revolution, detailing the economic crisis currently rumbling through the country.
Chrystia Freeland is deputy Chief Editor of the FINANCIAL TIMES. This is her first book.