Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump

Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump

The incredible, harrowing account of how American democracy was hacked by Moscow as part of a covert operation to influence the U.S. election and help Donald Trump gain the presidency.Russian Roulette is a story of political skullduggery unprecedented in American history. It weaves together tales of international intrigue, cyber espionage, and superpower rivalry. After U.S...

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Title:Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump
Author:Michael Isikoff
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Edition Language:English

Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump Reviews

  • Bill  Kerwin

    Can there be such a thing as a

    account of a complex, evolving political scandal? Perhaps not, but

    such a thing were possible,

    would be that book.

    There is a professionalism and solidity to Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s reporting that insures

    's continuing relevance, despite the changing landscape of scandal, the revolving carousel of malefactors. Isikoff and Corn are good, old-fashioned journalists, with a brisk, economic reportorial style (their

    Can there be such a thing as a

    account of a complex, evolving political scandal? Perhaps not, but

    such a thing were possible,

    would be that book.

    There is a professionalism and solidity to Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s reporting that insures

    's continuing relevance, despite the changing landscape of scandal, the revolving carousel of malefactors. Isikoff and Corn are good, old-fashioned journalists, with a brisk, economic reportorial style (their two voices are indistinguishable), and a knack for choosing just the right facts and presenting them in just the right order to illuminate the murky depths of a complex situation. They exhibited those qualities in

    , that useful book on the “selling of the Iraq War,” and they exhibit those qualities here too.

    Since I have read a good deal about Trump, his attendant rogues and their crimes, I found much familiar material here, but, even when Corn and Isikoff were telling me things I already knew, the writers always made the timeline clearer, and clarified the important distinction between what is known, what can be surmised, what is mere speculation. I also found the book particularly helpful in its historical background: Putin’s rise, the KGB roots of current Russian intelligence, Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the wide-ranging Clinton foundation, and—perhaps most important of all—Trump’s quest for the “holy grail” of a great Russian hotel and a personal relationship with his favorite autocrat. In every case,

    told me just enough to prepare me for the rest of the story, without ever overtaxing my intellect or exhausting my patience. (This is true even of the IT and hacking aspects of the tale, and that is saying something.)

    Perhaps, though, the saddest and most informative part of the book is its account of the Obama administration in the days immediately before the election, how everything—including Obama’s overweening humility and McConnell’s unrelenting partisanship—conspired to prevent America from learning the truth about Russia. It is an account of lost possibilities and failures of courage—lapses that the American people are still paying for, and will continue to pay for throughout the years to come.

    Finally, for those who like a brief take-away, here it is. Is there a “pee-pee tape”? I doubt it. Is there criminal collusion in the White House? I'd be willing to bet on it. (But I'd only bet if the stakes aren't too high. I refuse to play Russian Roulette.)

  • Scott Helms

    This book was one 1/2 WTF and 1/2 OMG!

    It will go down in history as the definitive first history of the scandal that has consumed our country for over two years now.

    It was well researched and well written. I would think skeptics of Russian meddling would change their tune after reading.

    Hoping the sequel is titled: Russian Roulette II, The Prison Years: An Ode to US Patriot Robert Mueller.

  • Steven Z.

    Each day it seems there is a new revelation related to Russian actions during the 2016 presidential election. Today for example, the New York Times reported that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has subpoenaed records of the Trump Organization to examine its relationship with Russia. As the information keeps flowing in newspapers and cable TV, and having read COLLUSION: SECRET MEETINGS, DIRTY MONEY, AND HOW RUSSIA HELPED DONALD TRUMP WIN by Luke Harding, and FIRE AND FURY by Michael Wolff my he

    Each day it seems there is a new revelation related to Russian actions during the 2016 presidential election. Today for example, the New York Times reported that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has subpoenaed records of the Trump Organization to examine its relationship with Russia. As the information keeps flowing in newspapers and cable TV, and having read COLLUSION: SECRET MEETINGS, DIRTY MONEY, AND HOW RUSSIA HELPED DONALD TRUMP WIN by Luke Harding, and FIRE AND FURY by Michael Wolff my head is spinning. How does one connect all the dots to see if there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and whether Trump is guilty of obstruction of justice? David Corn and Michael Isikoff may have gone a long way in doing so in their just released book, RUSSIAN ROULETTE: THE INSIDE STORY OF PUTIN’S WAR ON AMERICA AND THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP. Both authors are investigative journalists and this is there second joint effort, the first being there well received, HUBRIS: THE INSIDE STORY OF SPIN, SCANDAL, and AND THE SELLING OF THE IRAQ WAR.

    The arguments presented by Corn and Isikoff mirror those of others that have investigated Trump’s relationship with the Russians, simply put, “follow the money.” According to the authors Trump has been obsessed with building a Trump Tower in Moscow for decades. It seems it is the missing piece to his real estate empire and a segment of his ego, as he wanted to be known as a “global oligarch.” Most recently the obsession manifested itself in 2013 at the Miss Universe Pageant that took place in Moscow. For Trump to achieve his tower in Moscow he needed affirmation from Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the beauty contest it seemed that Trump was on pins and needles as to whether the Russian leader would make an appearance. The authors point to a number of Russian oligarchs and close Putin companions in showing who Trump tried partner with to build the tower, and others he had been involved with in the past. A number of oligarchs emerge, one of which was Aras Agalarov, known as “Putin’s builder” who was Trump’s partner in the Miss Universe Pageant; in fact a letter of intent was signed between Agalarov and Trump to finance the tower but eventually fell through.

    Another interesting character is Felix Sater, a Russian born, and one time felon with links to the Mafia and Russian organized crime who in the 2000s was a New York real estate developer who partnered with Trump with the Trump SoHo Hotel in lower Manhattan. Further in 2010 he became a Trump advisor for a short period of time though during the presidential election campaign Trump denied knowing him or even what he looked like. In effect, Sater was a go between Trump and the oligarchs. By October, 2015 Trump signed a letter of Intent with I.C. Expert Investment to move forward with the Trump Tower venture. Discussions about financing linked I.C. Expert Investment Company with Russian banks under US economic sanctions, including Sberbank, which cosponsored the 2013 beauty pageant in Moscow. According to Sater another source for investment was VTB Bank, an institution partly owned by the Kremlin and also under US sanctions. The result was that the Trump Organization was putting together a deal that could well depend on Russian financing from blacklisted banks linked to Putin’s regime. In fact, Sater emailed Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer and “pit bull,” “I will get Putin on this program and will get Donald elected….Buddy our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this. I will manage the process.” (81) At the same time Trump was cozying up to Putin on MSNBC’s Morning Joe declaring Putin as a more effective leader than Obama, who had accomplished much more than the American president. In 2008, Donald Trump, Jr. remarked; “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets….certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York…We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” In 2014, Eric Trump, Trump’s second oldest son said, “his father’s business did not rely on US banks for financing golf resort projects….We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” (89) Corn and Isikoff effectively delve into Trump’s Russian connections dating back years, and the only conclusion that can be drawn is that he was financially involved with Russian oligarchs and other unseeingly characters to the point that he still needed their assets to finance his projects. The problem was that he needed Putin’s approval.

    Corn and Isikoff lay out Putin’s worldview, in particular his attitude toward President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The authors weave a fascinating portrait that links a number of important characters. For example, when the Obama administration tried for a “reset” in Russian relations, Foreign Minister Lavrov requested that the US provide a visa for Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire close to Putin, and a business partner of Paul Manafort, who had been engaged in all kinds of duplicitous economic and political shenanigans in the Ukraine that resulted millions for his businesses. Putin himself was a Russian nationalist who wanted to restore Russia to its rightful place in the world. He strongly resented US “unipolar power” particularly as practiced by overthrowing autocracy in Iraq and Libya. Domestically, Putin felt that President Medvedev was too soft in dealing with Obama and announced in 2010 that he would run for President. Russia headed for a political crisis in 2011 and Putin blamed Clinton for the pro-democracy demonstrations against his election, along with domestic criticism. Putin’s resentment of Clinton would smolder for years, particularly as the State Department complained about the assassinations of Putin critics like Sergei Magnitsky which led to the Magnitsky Act in Congress geared against those who were responsible for his death. Putin would accuse the US of destabilizing the Ukraine and would seize the Crimea forcing Obama into further economic sanctions. By 2014, Putin would send troops into Ukraine.

    Corn and Isikoff spend a great deal of time explaining how the American election was compromised by Russian interference in 2016. They take a step by step approach which reads like a legal brief. In 2013, General Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces wrote an article that argued that information warfare could be used to weaponize political divisions within another nation. Instead of conventional warfare of the past, hackers and skilled propagandists trained to exploit existing rifts within the ranks of the adversary would be employed. A US informant explained that these networks were extremely extensive “in Europe-Germany, Italy, France and the UK-and in the US….Russia has penetrated media organizations, lobbying firms, political parties, governments, and militaries in all these places.” (52) The Obama administration decided not to do anything about it as it needed Putin’s support over the Iranian nuclear situation and events in Syria.

    Corn and Isikoff’s information dealing with Russian Troll Farms is very concerning. Company’s like the Russian Internet Research Agency employed hundreds of people who troll Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram stealing identities, creating false individuals and news praising Putin, denouncing Obama, and attacking the European Union. Payments to these trolls was made by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a restaurateur oligarch known as Putin’s chef. By 2015 there were repeated attacks against the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the State Department, and the White House. Again, Obama believing he needed Putin on Iran and Syria, did nothing. Interestingly, a Russian hacker named “Cozybear” had been inside the DNC network since July, 2015 and among the information stolen was their entire opposition research file on Donald Trump. Cybersecurity experts surmised that APT 28, a Russian hacker tied to the GRU, Russian military intelligence had launched 19,000 separate attacks against the US between March 2015 and May 2016.

    The FBI and US intelligence aware of these breaches kept warning the DNC and Clinton’s campaign as to the Russian penetration of their systems. At first they could not find the breach, but finally when it was located they had difficulty closing it. Their cyber assault would snare the top official in the Clinton campaign, John Podesta, and no one in the campaign had a clue. Corn and Isikoff do an admirable job providing the links in the chain dealing with the hacking of the DNC and Clinton campaign, as well as their links to Russian intelligence. They point to WikiLeaks and the attitude of Julian Assange toward Hillary Clinton and the US in general, and the numerous contacts between the Trump people and Russian intelligence. The preliminaries to the June 9, 2016 meeting between Trump, yr. Manafort, Kushner, Goldstone and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, her translator, a Agalarov executive implicated in Russian money laundering, and Rinat Akmetshin, a former Russian intelligence officer and lobbyist in Washington is carefully explored with the now infamous comment by Trump. Jr. before the meeting in response to possible information on Clinton, “If it’s what you say, I love it.”

    It is clear that George Papadopoulos, a Trump foreign policy advisor, who produced the comment by Steve Bannon, “how the fuck did he get on the list” of possible advisors, was fully engaged in trying to bring about a Trump-Putin meeting. Papadopoulos’ “big mouth” in a bar as he bragged about his work to an Australian diplomat led eventually to his indictment by Robert Mueller. Further, the buffoonish Carter Page went to Moscow to express his pro-Putin views with the permission of Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski – seen by Moscow as a signal from the Trump campaign. It is clear that what motivated Putin in this game of political intelligence, and hacking, was to end the American sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. For the Russian president it was simple, elect Trump who had hinted strongly he would be favorable, and as a secondary benefit gain his revenge against Hillary Clinton. The question is why was Trump so favorable? What did Putin have on Trump, and/or what promises were made if an acceptable outcome was reached?

    The answer to these questions becomes clearer when the authors discuss the Russian concept of kompromat, a strategy to obtain compromising material on people they want to manipulate employing blackmail and threats to achieve their goals. A Russian tactic that dates back to the Cold War it is a major theme put forth by Corn and Isikoff who argue it probably applies to Trump dating back at least to 2013 and the Miss Universe Contest which is laid out in Christopher Steele’s “dossier,” which contained the salacious information pertaining to Trump’s possible sexual escapades. The authors explain how it was employed and it goes a long way to explain why Trump is so obsessed with the Mueller investigation as one can only wonder what Putin has on Trump.

    Corn and Isikoff review details of the actual presidential campaign following their respective party conventions. All the information that the public was bombarded with for months is present including the role of social media, particularly important today with the digital relationship between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica making news headlines and its relationship to the Trump campaign. The authors analyze events to determine their impact on the election. From Wikipedia’s 64,000 email dump, including John Podesta designed to protect Trump and hurt Clinton, i.e., the email release following the Access Hollywood tape etc. The presidential debates are covered as was the ongoing indecision on the part of the Obama administration to educate the public that they had proof of Russian interference in the election and that an FBI investigation of Russian influence during the campaign was ongoing. After a careful examination of the campaign the authors conclude that Julian Assange and Wikileaks were acting in concert with the Russians. There were too many coincidents ranging from Roger Stone’s public comments to actual events to conclude otherwise.

    The evidence produced by a wonder of investigative reporting makes RUSSIAN ROULETTE the most important book to emerge from the morass of the 2016 election to date. If you are confused with the daily bombardment of information, Corn and Isikoff have done a service in putting it all together in a succinct and easy to read format. What is scary is that I assume Mueller knows exactly what’s in this book, the characters, the disingenuous deals and behavior, the lies, and the mistakes, by those who should have known better. It is no wonder that Trump engaged in the “Friday night massacre” a few days ago.

  • Michael Finocchiaro

    This was really a great piece of journalism but so incredibly soul-crushing. The multiple errors of the HRC campaign and the Obama administration in not exposing the Russian hacks, Comey’s treacherous (sorry, but it was totally partisan on his part) re-opening of the bogus Clinton email investigation after the disgusting Access Hollywood tape was forgotten and the Podesta email dump had stolen the headlines. It makes me cringe and want to scream that we have Blotus in Washington undermining demo

    This was really a great piece of journalism but so incredibly soul-crushing. The multiple errors of the HRC campaign and the Obama administration in not exposing the Russian hacks, Comey’s treacherous (sorry, but it was totally partisan on his part) re-opening of the bogus Clinton email investigation after the disgusting Access Hollywood tape was forgotten and the Podesta email dump had stolen the headlines. It makes me cringe and want to scream that we have Blotus in Washington undermining democracy and dragging the US towards kleptocratic theocracy every day thanks to the ingenious planning of Putin and the FSB. And, no, this is not a book about a conspiracy theory - this is well-researched and fully, publicly documented. Depressing.

  • Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*

    The Russian government is an asshole government. SURPRISE!

    The FSB (formerly the KGB) were harassing our diplomats prior to the Obama administration. They were beating them up, threatening them and their loved ones, and even killing their pets while they were out. Assholes.

    I am not one that would say positive things about Mitt Romney, mostly I’d just make fun of him; but do you recall during one of the debates, that he had with president Obama, when the question asked was “What is the biggest thr

    The Russian government is an asshole government. SURPRISE!

    The FSB (formerly the KGB) were harassing our diplomats prior to the Obama administration. They were beating them up, threatening them and their loved ones, and even killing their pets while they were out. Assholes.

    I am not one that would say positive things about Mitt Romney, mostly I’d just make fun of him; but do you recall during one of the debates, that he had with president Obama, when the question asked was “What is the biggest threat facing the United States today?” Mitt answered “Russia” and goddamn it he was right! President Obama laughed and replied (I’m paraphrasing) “What is this this, the 1980’s?” I love President Obama...... I miss him every minute of everyday, but he was a bit naive when it came to Russia. Just like he handled the Republicans, he was too optimistic about believing in their humanity. Silly Obama.

    Former Secretary of State, and winner of the 2016 presidential election by 4 million votes but yet is not the president of the U.S. because of a bunch of BS in the constitution (that must changed), Hillary Clinton called Putin out on cheating in his election at the time. This made Putin mad, and you don’t make sociopaths with short man syndrome mad. So, when Hillary ran for president, he was going to do everything in his power (of which he has a lot of) to disrupt our election. Check.

    When it came to light that Russia had definitely hacked the DNC (as well as the RNC.... oh the kompromat they must have on those slimy weasels), the Clinton campaign begged president Obama to come out strong about what was clearly happening and to come down hard against the Russian invasion and the Tump campaign’s collusion with it. The president (just like almost everyone else at that time..... remember?) thought that Clinton would win and didn’t want to appear to be playing partisan politics in an effort to sway the election. Oh silly Obama, why must you be such a nice guy?

    *sigh*

    Of course there is much more depressing information to be had in this book, which is quite good. The more you know the more prepared you are for whatever the future holds.

    We are on a precipice.

  • Dan

    It is difficult for a journalistic book written on current unfolding events to be a great one. There is simply not enough historical distance between the events of 2016 and earlier and today and the news keeps unfolding like the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook targeted political ad news.

    Russian Roulette does fill in a large number of holes in the Trump/Russia conspiracy. Russia has been actively cultivating Trump for more than a decade. The book alleges numerous bribes that Trump paid to Russia

    It is difficult for a journalistic book written on current unfolding events to be a great one. There is simply not enough historical distance between the events of 2016 and earlier and today and the news keeps unfolding like the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook targeted political ad news.

    Russian Roulette does fill in a large number of holes in the Trump/Russia conspiracy. Russia has been actively cultivating Trump for more than a decade. The book alleges numerous bribes that Trump paid to Russia for licensing and potential real estate deals and the book also alleges numerous prostitution compromat, not just the most salacious claim. If any of the above items are true, it goes a long way to explain Trump’s disturbing behavior with Putin. His whole business empire is at risk.

    Good book, not particularly dramatic. About 75% of the content is known to those who follow the news but the other 25% is new and pretty damning.

  • Matt

    I assert my right to call this a #realreview

    In possession of three somewhat inter-related books on the 45th POTUS, I thought that I would craft what I am calling my Trump Trifecta, which fits nicely into this non-fiction binge whose time is waning. Some may dispute the ‘non-fiction’ nature of these books, but that is for the reviewer (myself included) to decide in analysis while weighing the information presented. After reading about some of the wonky goings-on during the first year in the Trump

    I assert my right to call this a #realreview

    In possession of three somewhat inter-related books on the 45th POTUS, I thought that I would craft what I am calling my Trump Trifecta, which fits nicely into this non-fiction binge whose time is waning. Some may dispute the ‘non-fiction’ nature of these books, but that is for the reviewer (myself included) to decide in analysis while weighing the information presented. After reading about some of the wonky goings-on during the first year in the Trump White House in the opening book (check reviews should you want to know more), this second piece explores how Trump made it from long-shot candidate to winner of the 2016 US Presidential Election. Michael Isikoff and David Corn—both journalists who covered the recent presidential election—explore numerous players in the 2016 campaign and how they are interconnected in their divergent efforts to shape events. There were three significant issues that served to define the campaign and led to a number of noteworthy outcomes: Trump’s disinterest in distancing himself from Russia, significant hacks into the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Clinton email server discovery/repercussions. In the early portion of the book, the authors lay some of the significant groundwork used to shape these overall arguments. Trump’s connection to Russia and Putin can be traced back to his desire to have a Trump Tower in the Russian capital, paired with his apparent strong desire to create a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin proved essential aspects to the future GOP candidates ongoing connection to the country. This was further solidified during the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Russia, where the authors depict Trump as trying to curry favour with the Russian leader and have him attend. This connection, alongside some leaked potential blackmail that Russian Intelligence captured during the aforementioned pageant stay, helped to strengthen Trump’s apparent desire to speak fondly of Putin and the larger Russian Government system, turning away from any criticisms or smears at any point. Moving to the year of the campaign, Isikoff and Corn discuss oddities that were found within the DNC’s email servers, cyber-footprints that could only be described as hackers having infiltrated the system and collected large portions of documentation, which included email chains that told of strongly worded opinions on a variety of sources. Some of these included the presumptive Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, while many others were from senior members of the DNC slandering Trump or Bernie Sanders. These emails were eventually released through WikiLeaks and tweeted by a number of sources that were eventually traced back to Russia, though it was only the DNC that received this rough treatment, leaving Trump and his team to stand on the side and use the documents to fuel their ongoing attacks. This hacking led to many questions about what else Russia might be able to do and how far their reach might go. Tied to the DNC hacking has to be the dark cloud that hung over its candidate and the personal server that Clinton used. While she stated that she did nothing illegal and only followed those who went before her, Clinton was not able to dodge this bullet, particularly when the FBI opened an investigation and sifted through many of the emails, finding crumbs of things that might have remnants of national security concerns. All this worked to gather negative momentum and helped Trump (and the hackers) to create a strong negative persona of the Democratic candidate. What followed was a mixture of these three issues and a number of other characters who, when added to the mix, created the most controversial and dramatic lead-ups to a presidential election in recent memory. Those who enjoy peeling back some of the layers that led to this tumultuous campaign will likely enjoy this piece, which pulls no punches and explores items from numerous perspectives. Isikoff and Corn do a masterful job of adding hype and intrigue to this, only helping to further stoke fires that have not yet dissipated. This book has all the elements of a political thriller, but with all the ties to publicly revealed information, I know it has elements of substantiated fact. Well worth the time for those who can stomach the drama.

    I admit outrightly that I am not a fan of the current POTUS, but I do love a good election story that shows the drama of events as they unfold. The authors have tried as best they can to depict both sides of the race, but particularly the intrusion by Russia and the seeming inability of the US Government to stop the meddling and potential voter influence of the 2016 Presidential Election. Some within the Obama Administration were too timid to act with an iron fist, concerned that it would come across as partisan, while others did not want to appear to place a thumb on the scale and tip things in any direction. Within all of this, the FBI was trying to run two significant investigations: Clinton’s email scandal and the Russian hacking, taking no side while garnering a pile of information on which they could act. The book is surely full of salacious details, particularly directed at the GOP candidate, though much of this hit the airwaves and was not disputed at the time by Trump, even though his campaign wanted to nullify it from the get-go. Some will call the book a smear campaign, putting Trump in bed with the Russians or even trying to draw parallels between hacker and troll actions with his own campaign. While I choose not to dive in wholeheartedly, the evidence is quite strong and I would challenge anyone who can explain it away to do so, rather than try to toss mud and deflect on the accusations at hand (see my review of the first book in the trifecta to see how I feel about those who do nothing but whinge and try to bang pots because they cannot defend their position). It’s damning, but so are some of the concerns raised within the Clinton email scandal and the information released, albeit illegally. With Russian hackers, a candidate seen to be colluding with them, another embroiled in an email scandal, where do we turn? Who can shed some light on all of this while trying to take the high road? Let’s go to the FBI and its director, who was in the middle of this mess. That’s where this trifecta ought to close out its analysis. But, we could not have made it there without the help of Isikoff and Corn, who paved the way and left me itching with questions and shaking my head.

    Kudos, Messrs. Isikoff and Corn, for a great piece of journalistic analysis. I can see the trolls (Russian and others) trying to pull down the foundations of your arguments, though you seem to have embedded them in a sturdy foundation. I look forward to seeing how it all plays out.

    Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

    A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

  • Esil

    3.5 stars

    Reading books about current US politics is completely useless. While Russian Roulette pulls together a lot of information about how Russia interfered in the US 2016 election, the information in the book has been overtaken many times over by the daily headlines since its publication.

    Having said that, Russian Roulette does a good job of laying out what was known by the authors at the time they researched and wrote the book. Unfortunately while it all sounds like a scary dystopian novel,

    3.5 stars

    Reading books about current US politics is completely useless. While Russian Roulette pulls together a lot of information about how Russia interfered in the US 2016 election, the information in the book has been overtaken many times over by the daily headlines since its publication.

    Having said that, Russian Roulette does a good job of laying out what was known by the authors at the time they researched and wrote the book. Unfortunately while it all sounds like a scary dystopian novel, it isn’t.

    I listened to the audio, which was perfectly acceptable.

  • Jeffrey Keeten

    To me, the biggest threat to the continued security of the world is Vladimir Putin. He wants to build through creating chaos. I grew up under the auspicious umbrella of the Cold War. We were r

    To me, the biggest threat to the continued security of the world is Vladimir Putin. He wants to build through creating chaos. I grew up under the auspicious umbrella of the Cold War. We were replacing war with spycraft, much the same way American football has replaced gladiator combat. Not that there weren’t bobbles. The Cuban Missile Crisis was too real, too close. The possibility of something going wrong during that jostling of superpowers that would light the tinder of WW3 certainly raised the blood pressure and anxiety of everyone in the United States and the Soviet Union, not to mention all the European countries who resided in-between. The spectre of nuclear holocaust had escaped the celluloid images of movies and become tangible in the bright light of day.

    During the October 22nd, 2012, Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, there was an exchange about Russia that I found personally very uncomfortable. Romney, in his book, had stated that Russia was our greatest geopolitical enemy. In the debate, Obama was able to pounce on this concept with what would be the zinger of the debate season.

    The right answer, of course, for this debate season was all about stopping al-Qaeda not Russia.

    Obama scored points with his base and independent voters with that response. We do like to be entertained by witty remarks. Obama had made Romney sound out of touch with what were the most important threats to national security. It was brilliant. The problem is that I personally still saw not so much the Russian people, but Vladimir Putin as the biggest threat to national security. 9/11 was still fresh in everyone’s mind, and fanatical Islamic terrorists were the prefered villains in American minds.

    When Obama’s plan to RESET with Russia came out, I was hopeful, but cynical, about what would come of it. Since I truly believe that Putin’s most important goal is to assemble the old Soviet Union, how exactly would RESET really work? I felt that Obama and his team were naive. Our embassy people in Russia were being harassed with vandalism, break-ins, aggressive abuse in the street, and being followed everywhere they went.

    Let’s flash forward to 2016.

    If Hillary Clinton became the Democratic nominee for President in 2016, it was clear that Putin was going to do everything he could to destroy her. At what point did Putin believe that Donald J. Trump would emerge out of a crowded field as the Republican nominee for President? Was it before he had even declared he was running?

    The relationship between Putin and Trump is a slippery slope of half known truths. This book outlines the contacts that Trump and his team had with Russia prior to the election. Trump has had a long term desire to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. He had two deals almost come together, but each time they fell apart due to circumstances beyond his control.

    I do wonder if it is possible to separate Trump’s personal ambitions from his political aspirations.

    I about fell out of my chair when I heard Trump asked Russia to hack Clinton’s emails, implying a shared alliance with the Russian hackers and his team. It was very reckless rhetoric, a signature of Trump’s personality.

    So yes, there are rolling black clouds of smoke surrounding the Trump team and their involvement with the Russians. Were they just naive of the law? This is not really an excuse I care to embrace because ignorance of the law has never worked for me in my own life. Or was there a true sinister attempt to collude or conspire to win the election?

    As I see the accusations unfold and the Mueller probe continue to convict Trump people of crimes that are very real crimes, but not tied to Russian collusion, I do wonder if there is going to be a big pay off, or are we going to just send a bunch of shady, rich guys to prison? I applaud that and wish we could send a lot more of them to jail. I do think it says something about Trump’s character, the type of people with whom he associates.

    And this too.

    Not just Putin, but the Fat Baby from North Korea, as well.

    It is about the economy right? I have had numerous Trump voters tell me, don’t worry about the Fake News or the Tweets or even what Trump says; just enjoy the robust economy. Probably the more baffling comments I get are the dismissive ones about Russia. They don’t see them as a threat, or they think that Trump can handle them.

    Did Helsinki make anyone think that Trump can handle Putin?

    All part of the plan right? Trump has him right where he wants him. *sigh*

    How about this? Does this bother anyone?

    I’ve never heard of Russia being so excited about the election of an American president. I would rather they were groaning at our election results.

    The hackers of Russia were bold under Obama and continue to be bold under Trump.

    We know the hacking is being orchestrated by the Russian government and the Chinese government as well. A new form of Cold War has begun although it feels pretty warm. To me having foreign powers attempting to hack vital secrets or launching insidious attacks on our elections are acts of war, and we need to hit them back hard with more sanctions or hacking attacks of our own. Putin does not understand anything but power and pain. Make him feel the pain for his actions. Make him reluctant to condone hacking attacks on any nation. We must keep our elections safe, and social media needs to keep Fake News from permeating our society.

    All news is fake according to Trump. It is a brazenly good strategy. If his supporters won’t believe the real news, then they won’t believe the criticisms of his administration either. If Mueller does prove collusion between Trump or members of Trump’s team or both with Russia to influence an American election, will it matter to his supporters or to Congress? Will a Democratic Congress do anything about it, or do they wait for 2020 and let the election box decide? The problems run deep on all these matters I’ve discussed. I decided to read this book because I wanted to review all the known information that is of concern regarding the Trump relationship with Russia to be prepared for what Mueller will reveal after the November elections.

    I do believe that Putin does have something on Trump.

    I believe that Trump knows Putin has something on him as well. It seems that Trump gets off on watching Russian hookers pee. Can you imagine if something like that had been revealed about Obama? The Right would have crucified him, not to mention the sanctimonious liberals in his own party. I guess for the Right to be upset about any criticism or any untoward behavior from Trump they would have to believe it first.

    Putin may not be in as good of a position as he thinks.

    As much as we want to make Russia all about Trump, and sometimes it even seems like Trump takes malicious glee in making Russia about him as well, Trump will go away. The problem that will remain will be Putin. The question isn’t, can the world survive Trump. The question is, can the world survive Putin?

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