Garry Kasparov is indisputably one of the greatest chess players in history - he become the youngest ever World Champion at the age of 22 and held the title for fifteen years, during which he set a record for consecutive tournament victories. Since his retirement from competitive chess in 2005, he has divided his time between coaching, charitable work with his Kasparov Chess Foundation, and political activism. It is to the last category that this book belongs.
Much of the book is taken up by an extended expose of Putin's crimes against democracy and peace, his victimization of the Russian people and their neighbors. This is not an objective report, but a passionate denunciation of what Kasparov describes as a "mafia state", a lawless regime run solely for the benefit of those at the top. But the real heart of the book is Kasparov's scathing indictment of decades of indifference and enabling by a toothless international community. In Kasparov's view, this has been caused less by the increasing strength of economic ties due to globalization than by a general deterioration of civilizational confidence throughout the West.
Kasparov's case is thoroughly convincing even if his presentation is disorganized, jumping around chronologically in a manner that is sometimes confusing, but held together by his personal experience and passion. Unfortunately, in the final chapter, when the time comes to present a positive program for change, all he can muster is empty cliches about the importance of education, a fizzle of an end to an explosive book.