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The New Nobility: The Restoration Of Russia's Security State and the Enduring Legacy Of the KGB [Hardcover]

Andrei Soldatov , Irina Borogan
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Book Description

Aug. 24 2010
In The New Nobility, two courageous Russian investigative journalists open up the closed and murky world of the Russian Federal Security Service.

While Vladimir Putin has been president and prime minister of Russia, the Kremlin has deployed the security services to intimidate the political opposition, reassert the power of the state, and carry out assassinations overseas. At the same time, its agents and spies were put beyond public accountability and blessed with the prestige, benefits, and legitimacy lost since the Soviet collapse.

The security services have played a central— and often mysterious—role at key turning points in Russia during these tumultuous years: from the Moscow apartment house bombings and theater siege, to the war in Chechnya and the Beslan massacre. The security services are not all-powerful; they have made clumsy and sometimes catastrophic blunders. But what is clear is that after the chaotic 1990s, when they were sidelined, they have made a remarkable return to power, abetted by their most famous alumnus, Putin.

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Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2010
“A relentless investigation that demonstrates how, with Putin’s rise, the KSB has taken its place ‘at the head table of power and prestige in Russia.’ ”

Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2010
“Few people are better placed than Mr. Soldatov and Ms. Borogan to write with authority on this subject. They run the website Agentura.Ru, a magpie's nest of news and analysis that presents a well-informed view of the inner workings of this secret state. Given the fates that have befallen other investigative journalists in Russia in recent years, some might fear for the authors' safety. But the publication of the "The New Nobility" in English is welcome; it should be essential reading for those who hold naïve hopes about Russia's development or who pooh-pooh the fears of its neighbors.” 

Foreign Policy, September 17, 2010
“The authors bring hard-digging, fact-based journalism to an aspect of Russia that has been hard to document and understand… Sober and probing.”

Basil and Spice, September 14, 2010
“A non-fiction book that reads like a spy thriller… The New Nobility is an important book, well written and meticulously researched by two journalists with the right sources, both inside and outside the FSB.”

Sunday Times (UK), September 19, 2010
“This compelling book is a distillation of [Soldavov & Borogan’s] work on the website. Drawing on considerable research it describes how the KGB, for decades at the violent vanguard of the communist dictatorship, switched effortlessly after the fall of the Soviet Union, preserving the stability of the new ultra-capitalist Kremlin; same people, many of the same methods, different name and economic system.”

The Guardian, September 25, 2010
“Because every page in this book gainsays his claim in the most forceful fashion imaginable that democracy is now decisive in defining Russia's political direction…. It is the product of two profoundly courageous Russian journalists who are meticulous about their reporting…. It is because they are Russian and superbly professional journalists that this book offers dozens of insights that no outsider could provide.”

The Guardian, October 3, 2010
“If all of this still feels too frivolous, turn to The New Nobility, an inside look at the KGB by a pair of fearless Russian journalists, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan. Charting the organisation's heyday, decline and creeping return to power, it promises to raise the hairs on your neck as effectively as Ackroyd's ghost stories.”

Financial Times, October 18, 2010
“A detailed dissection of the FSB, the heir to the KGB, which still casts a long shadow over Moscow. For more than a decade the two authors have run the website, a gold mine of information on the inner workings of the security services, particularly the FSB. In a country where many journalists have been attacked or killed for speaking truth to power, their reporting has been brave.”

Mother Jones, November 2010
“The New Nobility is an unnerving look at the real power behind the new Russia.”

Russian Life
“For those looking for yet more evidence that the security services are pulling the strings in modern Russia, look no further than this extraordinary new book from the fearless journalists at Soldatov (who has written for Russian Life) and Borogan have compiled a history of FSB activities and operations over the past decade that paint a very vivid picture of a security service that has become Russia’s new ruling class… With amazing accounts of some of the most significant security crises and counter-terrorist activities of the past decade, Soldatov and Borogan offer insights into FSB operations that have not been offered anywhere to date… A must read.”
Irish Times, October 30, 2010
“Impressively detailed and unsettling… Soldatov and Borogan have done an excellent job in shining a light in some of Russia’s darkest corners.”
Moscow Times, November 12, 2010
“Fortunately there are inquisitive and intrepid journalists like Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan to bring nuance, analysis and old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting to the subject of the revival of Russia’s security services…. The authors pull no punches in their criticism of endemic corruption and incompetence in the country’s security forces. But they do so with a refreshing lack of hysteria, drawing conclusions from facts they were able to document and refusing to indulge in conspiracy theory.”

Literary Review, December 2010
“This important monograph, written by a brave and talented team, is a history of the KGB (now called the FSB) over the last fifteen years.”


New Statesman, December 6, 2010
“Drawing on extensive investigations, the two journalists have written a gripping account of how veterans of the KGB seized control of the Russian state… This book paints a chilling picture of a country dominated by a power-hungry clique. Anyone who wants to understand Putin’s brave new Russia should read it.”
Financial World (UK), December 2010
“A thorough and very brave examination of an organization that has a tight political, commercial and economic grip on Russia”
New York Review of Books, January 3, 2011
“As it has in earlier contests over leadership, the country’s all-powerful Federal Security Service (FSB) is bound to have a crucial part in deciding who will be the next president. (This agency made the original arrests in the Khodorkovsky case, discussed below, which has great significance for the presidential succession.) This is why The New Nobility, which explains how the FSB has evolved over the past decade into an organization with enormous political and economic influence, is such an important and timely book…. Using anonymous sources from within the security services and the Kremlin, along with on-the-spot reporting, Soldatov and Borogan have uncovered new and significant information on the FSB and its relations with the Russian leadership.”


About the Author

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan are co-founders of the Agentura.Ru website. Soldatov worked for Novaya Gazeta from 2006 to 2008. Agentura.Ru and its reporting have been featured in the New York Times, the Moscow Times, the Washington Post, Online Journalism Review, Le Monde, The Christian Science Monitor, CNN, Federation of American Scientists, and the BBC. The New York Times called it “A Web Site That Came in From the Cold to Unveil Russian Secrets.”

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Sword than Shield Nov. 25 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Reports by brave and resourceful journalists in Russia are worth buying if for no other reason than to show concern for this enigmatic country that has played a central role, often beneficial, in world affairs since Napoleon. The authors make no attribution to a translator so it must be assumed that they wrote directly into English which is quite remarkable because of the clarity of their language and the absence of absurd posturing that is so prevalent in modern English liberal journalism. What they have to say does not come as a surprise to most of us who have seen with horror the untimely deaths of many Russian journalists, especially those reporting on the criminal behaviour of Russian defence and security forces. Soldatov and Boragan provide new information, much of it first hand, of incidents such as the murder of schoolchildren at Beslan and the infamous Nord-Ost assault by Chechen terrorists. The FSB is shown to be at least incompetent in handling these incidents.

However it is easy to sit on the sideline and tell police and soldiers who were risking their lives how it could have been done better particularly when they were faced with suicide bombers who may explode taking hundreds of victims with them at any threat of being captured. Furthermore, in a world where the United States has waged several undeclared wars starting with Vietnam (does the word infamy spring to mind?), France has killed an opponent of hydrogen bomb tests in the ironically named Pacific Ocean, Britain executed unarmed Irish citizens in a Gibraltar street, to say nothing of murderous Mossad - all in the name of state security is Russia any different?

The end of the USSR created several democracies in countries that had previously known only autocracy of one form or another.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but flawed on a number of points Oct. 24 2010
By H. Williams - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The main goal of the authors is to show that the FSB like the KGB and the tsarist's secret police before it have become the means by which the Kremlin controls Russia and in this the authors are successfull.They demonstrate how Putin has consolidated the FSB from the chaotic 90s and has used it to solidify his control over the country.They show how the FSB has played a role in the political,economic and administrative life of Russia.They give details about its involvement in the North Caucausus,the spy cases over the last decade and the hostage crises in the last couple of years.However,the authors have omitted a number of details that would have been interesting and it would seem that a number of their points are erroneous.
For example,there is no mention about the FSB's role in the Yukos affair and this is important as this was a turning point for Russia where Putin and his hardline allies in the siloviki were victorious in their control of Russia over the oligarchs.There is no mention of the FSB and Organized crime or of any possible role it played in information sharing with the CIA in the invasion of Afghanistan.No mention either of the role it played in the assasinations of Chechen warlords like Khattab,Arbi Barayev,Maskhadov and Basayev.The authors also make the claim that Nord Ost was a disaster but given the fact that the rebels attempted to attain some kind of victory,that many lives were saved and that by the authors own admission ,the operation was thought to be impossible ,I dont see how this could be so.
In conclusion,if you want to get a glimpse to how Russian politics works or of the role the FSB plays in modern Russia this book will be a great guide.If you were expecting details like how Christopher ANdrew has detailed the KGB and MI5,you will be sorely disappointed.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid history. A must read. Oct. 24 2010
By Paul E. Richardson - Published on
For those looking for yet more evidence that the security services are pulling the strings in modern Russia, look no further than this extraordinary new book from the fearless journalists at Soldatov (who has written for Russian Life) and Borogan have compiled a history of FSB activities and operations over the past decade that paint a very vivid picture of a security service that has become Russia's new ruling class.

Today's FSB, the authors show, is careerist, clannish, suspicious and inward looking. Oh, and ruthless and absolutely unaccountable to any democratically governed body.

With amazing accounts of some of the most significant security crises and counter-terrorist activities of the past decade, Soldatov and Borogan offer insights into FSB operations that have not been offered anywhere to date, outside perhaps the FSB and the CIA. Certainly the Russian press has offered little in this realm since Putin, Edinaya Rossiya and the FSB stepped in to fill the power vacuum left behind when the Communist Party was sucked out into space. A must read.

As reviewed in Russian Life
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book To Explain Why Russians Are Unhappy Aug. 15 2013
By Vladimir - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you want an inside look at what is happening in Russia today, this is the book to buy. It gives facts, details, and analysis of why Russia is becoming a lost opportunity for freedom-loving people.

Liberty and domestic spying are polar opposites, as Americans are slowly discovering. Russians were promised by Western journalists and Russian liberals alike, far more than democratic elections, they were promised freedom. And for a few years, they got it, but as Putin's internal security services were strengthened, Russians have lost much of their freedom, particularly freedom of speech.

It is risky now to demonstrate against the Putin government or even complain about some their policies. It is extremely risky to criticize local Russian officials in any form of media. State secrets seem to exist everywhere now. This may explain why some online Russian websites refuse to accept comments from readers in the West. Some, such as Pravda Online, seem to have closed down their forum permanently, while others have forums but Western IP addresses cannot register to comment. The FSB is watching everything, just as in America, the NSA is watching and listening and collecting data on everyone. And what good is all that information unless it is used?

What is striking are the parallels between Russian internal security services and American internal security services, virtual clones of each other, and perhaps designed by the same people? Alternative news media reported that Homeland Security hired at least one former East German Stazi official to design their structure and programs.

Could it be possible that in the near future, the vast databases of U.S. citizens will merge with those of Germany, France, Canada, Australia, U.K., and Russia, into one world-wide control system?

Will innocent U.S. citizens be hunted like Snowden for dissenting against the loss of freedom? Better read this book to see how bad things can get, because our government is on that exact path.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The New Nobility Jan. 29 2013
By Hendo - Published on
I don't read a lot of books but this was book was excellent. I was born in Russia & what they talk about in this book is true. FSB is a person security for Kremlin members. This book explains on how FSB does all the dirty work for Putin & higher government officials. If you want to read about massive corruption in Russia...than you should definitely purchase this book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Rush To Publish April 22 2011
By Doc Giere - Published on
Forget the flyleaf accolades (Basil and Spice, Sunday Times, The Guardian, Financial Times, Mother Jones). Although the book is an interesting 'read', the authors assume the non-existent rules of a chaotic blogosphere apply to traditional reportage. Not so. As a result, the tome is a collection of anecdotes, some revealing, some not. Even a disinterested reader, forced to plow through stultifying text, must raise an eyebrow when, all chapters being equal, he or she is presented with hard-edged news that the siloviki and organized Russian sport are in bed together. But wait, there's more . . . or less: the book does not connect the dots with decent organization charts, critical roadmaps to an explanation of things Byzantine. Had there been a more demanding editor, or had the authors spent just another month doing their due diligence, the book would have been better. Two stars . . . barely.
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