In This Review

Resurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia
Resurrection: The Struggle for a New Russia
By David Remnick
Random House, 1997, 352 pp.

Remnick has an enormous advantage. He writes better than anyone else. His natural sense of personality and gifted pen allow him to conjure a reality through images. Sometimes these images are a finely drawn portrait, as of Vladimir Zhirinovsky or Alexander Solzhenitsyn or the new banking mogul Vladimir Gusinsky; sometimes they are the sights and sounds of history turning corners, as the days and hours preceding Yeltsin's 1993 decision to blow up the White House; and sometimes they are the convulsive mix of human and physical impressions present in a setting, such as contemporary Moscow. Humor adds to the effect. Having sought out Stalin's favorite painter, an initiative typical of his curiosity, he listens for a while. "I had not said much, and when Nalbandyan began dispensing his opinions of Jews (negative) and flying saucers (positive) I decided that it was probably time to go."

At moments Remnick writes as though his purpose is to explain the larger significance of Russia's post-1991 evolution. His greater accomplishment, however, is to draw the reader into a theater filled with detail, color, and humanity, as vivid as the original -- and a whole lot clearer.