This book came out near the end of 2017. I tried to read it then but was too nauseated by the saturation of Trump/Russia coverage so I set it aside. Last summer, I saw it in a used book store for $2 and figured “What the heck?” So I picked it up.
I’m glad I did. Even though much of the information feels dated (especially considering today’s Manafort revelations on his dealings with Kilimnik), it will likely remain as one of the central works to understanding Trump and Russia. The author, a Russia expert who writes for The Guardian, actually had contact with Christopher Steele right before his famous dossier was leaked for the world to see. In the two years since it’s released, large parts of it have been verified.
Taking time to examine how the Russia scandal has affected Trump’s presidency, Harding mostly pulls back to show how the connections between Trump and Putin, as well as Trump and the USSR, were made. He has a good knowledge of the region and its political actors and does a great job tracing straight lines to the various players in the saga. He also eschews hyperbole and hysteria, both of which have been in ample supply from the media in the Trump age.
The book is far from perfect. Harding is a little too sympathetic to James Comey, coming off as almost admirable towards the man who helped put us in this circumstance. He also doesn’t do a great job of sussing out the banking stuff which, to be fair, is labyrinthian and almost completely shrouded in secrecy.
But for the most part, it’s a quality book, easy to read and will serve as a good primer for the novice who wants to learn more about Trump and Russia.