Is Russia doomed to suffer under tyranny? The modern form dissected by Pomerantsev's fine journalism is peculiarly subtle: the trappings of western wealth but permitted and controlled by Kremlin bureaucrats. The author spent 10 years in Moscow making TV documentaries and gradually realises the full extent of Russia's corruption. He moves from lively stories of glamorous girls from the sticks looking for Moscow sugar-daddies to cases of wrongful imprisonment, despair and suicide. At the heart of the system are Machiavellian technologists who do not simply oppress opposition but infiltrate and sponsor it so it becomes inoffensive. Moscow, for Pomerantsev, "can feel like an oligarchy in the morning and a democracy in the afternoon, a monopoly for dinner and a totalitarian state by bedtime". This is a lively, clear-headed and depressing story.