Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Sunday Book Review: Red Notice

Bill Browder has made it his mission to draw the world's attention to the abuses of power the Russian people suffer every day.

With his book, "Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice," he puts the world on notice: The Putin regime will ruthlessly go after anyone and everyone who dares to take issue with their policies or with their murderous defiance of all ethical and moral behavior.

I became interested in this story when I heard an interview with Bill Browder about the Magnitsky Act, which Browder had worked tirelessly to bring to Congress and get passed by Congress and finally signed by Pres. Obama in 2012.

This Act, named for Russian citizen Sergei Magnitsky, was written "to punish Russian officials who were thought to be responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and their use of its banking system," as Wikipedia puts it.

Wikipedia has to be careful with its wording, thus "Russian officials who were THOUGHT to be responsible for..."

We do not have to be this careful, as we can see, by reading the book: These officials were indeed, as shown in "Red Notice," responsible for Magnitsky's death, as they sentenced him wrongly to be imprisoned and made sure that he was transferred from one hell-hole to another, starved, tortured, and denied medical treatment.

The response of the Putin regime and the 22 oligarchs who have made millions and billions of dollars off of the misery of the Russian people over the past few years has been a massive, collective shrug of the shoulders. Ah, so what?

Except that they're mad, really mad, so mad that Putin made it impossible for American citizens to continue to go to Russia to adopt orphans, which they had been doing for years. Oh, and, then to blame the American government for the fact that Russian orphans are languishing in hellish conditions throughout their country. (Unfortunately for Putin et al., the Russian people are well aware of the plight of these children and the reasons for their plight, and have dared even to demonstrate in the streets, finally forcing the Russian government to build some more orphanages. Not enough, though.)

Dear Readers, I hope you will read this book. It's even better than the one I reviewed last Sunday. In fact, it's much, much better, because even though it deals with a sad and painful and tragic experience, it's about people, like Sergei Magnitsky and the author himself, and many others, who have bravely fought evil. (In contrast, "Devil's Bargain" is about two people, and many others, who come close to embodying evil.)

I want you to read this book because I don't have time to summarize its contents. If I did, I would, because Sergei Magnitsky and the other martyrs (yes, martyrs) who have been killed by Putin and his henchmen are so brave it makes your heart ache.

On the other hand, I can't summarize the writing style of Bill Browder, who makes every detail count, starting with his own life and the lives of his parents and grandparents. (His grandfather, Earl Browder, was head of the American Communist Party and ran for president representing that party in 1936 and again in 1940.) They were all remarkable people: intellectuals with courage and grit, hard working and determined to do what they believed to be right.

So there are two reasons to read the book: It's so full of the honest but painful truth about life in today's Russia, and it's so well written.

So, you don't care about life in today's Russia? But you should. Because this is impacting our life here in America right now. The Russian government is using the Magnitsky Act and its own response to that Act in order to persuade ignorant Americans (like Donald J. Trump and his entire family and retinue, apparently), AKA "useful idiots," to try to influence our past and future elections.

I checked the book out of my wonderful local library, The Camas Public Library, after putting a hold on it weeks ago,  but I'm going to buy it from Amazon as soon as I can, and will thereafter press it on my unwitting but willing friends to read.

(I see it's available on Amazon for just under $13.00.  Also at Walmart for $3.99---really? I'm going to check that out!)

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