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Black Wind, White Snow by Charles Clover. Book Review

June 28, 2016

Black Wind white snow

There is no doubt that Russian authors were, and still are, not short of material on which they can draw on extensively for their novels; some of it in epic proportions. The content of Black Wind, White Snow reinforces this opinion.

Although a non-fiction book, it reads like a sweeping epic with secret organisations, spies, flights across war-torn Russian territories to safety, major political figures, gulags and dispossessed Russian nobility. It is a book rich with details, where Charles Clover also finds time to focus in on the human stories of love, hate, arrogance and the inability to fit in. With this in mind Black Wind, White Snow is a wonderful of starting point for a writer in any genre, as well, as being an absorbing read for the curious.

At the centre of the book is the Russian concept of Eurasianism, which is one perception of Russian national identity. It is something that has come and gone, then been recently revived by Validmir Putin, particularly with regards to the annexation of the Crimea.

Eurasianism was a movement Started by the Russians exiled from their homeland in the 1920s, the idea was nurtured again in the 1960s, then again by Putin as a rationale for extending Russia as a nation.

However, his reference to the concept was made in such an oblique way at an annual gathering of Russia’s handpicked elite, that blink and you would have missed it. The idea that Putin uses messages embedded within his speeches (or dog whistles as they are known in US politics because only certain people can hear them), is only the start of a book that is a switchback of changing loyalties and the painful legacies of successive governments with people tossed around like flotsam and jetsam.

This is quite an internal contemplation of the subject with little comment made about the possible effects of the West on Russia. However, for anyone wanting to better understand the shifts in Russian mind-set over the last few years or just wanting a really good book to lose themselves in, Black Wind, White Snow is in many ways better than a novel.

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