Red to Black (2008)
Alex Dryden is apparently the pseudonym of a journalist with long experience covering Russia--15 years in the country--and security matters. Though it's not clear what the point of the pen name is since his picture is posted online and a set of cover blurbs from Steven Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson--all of whom were in Footlights Theater at Cambridge--suggests a certain commonality of background. At any rate, Whoever he is in real life, the author must have felt his non-fiction dispatches were being ignored, because Red to Black is essentially an anti-Putin polemic cast in the guise of a novel. And a pretty good one at that.
Finn is an MI6 agent in Russia with a very useful mole in the government. Anna, the youngest female colonel in the KGB, is offered up as a honey trap. But the two fall in love and over a period of years work to expose The Plan, a long term effort by members of the Russian security services to achieve by more capitalistic and acquisitive means the subversion of Europe that the USSR so spectacularly failed at. Dryden portrays a Russia on the march, using its energy resources to triumph over a recumbent Western Europe. Anyone familiar with Russia's own demographic crisis will find it even harder to take the bear seriously now than we did twenty years ago, but the analysis of why the USSR fell and what Putin and company would like to achieve is lucid and compelling. It's a fair warning, if perhaps an overblown one.
-AUTHOR PAGE: Alex Dryden (Harper Collins)
-AUDIO INTERVIEW: Red to Black (The Leonard Lopate Show, August 19, 2009)
-INTERVIEW: A Wake Up Call to the West: PW talks with Alex Dryden (Robert C. Hahn, 6/22/09, Publishers Weekly)
-REVIEW: of Red to Black by Alex Dryden (The Economist)
-REVIEW: of Red to Black (Jeremy Jehu, Daily Telegraph)
-REVIEW: of Red to Black (Publishers Weekly)
-REVIEW: of Red to Black (John Dugdale, Times of London)
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