With its colorful dialogue, moral dilemmas, and scenes of physical danger, Stewart’s book would make a great movie. It tells the tale of how in 2013, 30 Greenpeace environmental activists aboard the ship Arctic Sunrise attempted to storm the Russian gas conglomerate Gazprom’s giant drilling platform north of the Arctic Circle to protest the oil and gas rush about to sweep into the region. The team was seized by Russian commandos, jailed, and faced with the prospect of lengthy prison terms. After considering the sheer audacity of the operation, the book shifts to recounting the participants’ months-long experience in a Murmansk prison, which ended with their release in an amnesty issued in advance of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. This is not one of Russia’s harshest prisons, but the prison life the book reveals is eye-opening, and Stewart describes it with great verve; the inmates exchanged written notes and cigarettes using a network of ropes strung between cell windows and generally followed the rules of their own well-regulated, communal society.
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