The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia

Winner, National Book Awards 2017 for Nonfiction

The Future Is History, by Masha Gessen book cover
ISBN 9781594634536
Riverhead Books / Penguin Random House
Masha Gessen author photo, 2016
Masha Gessen

Masha Gessen is a Russian-American journalist and the author of several books, including The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Carnegie Fellowship, and her work has appeared in The New York TimesThe New York Review of BooksThe New YorkerSlate, Vanity Fair, and many other publications. More about this author >

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Hailed for her “fearless indictment of the most powerful man in Russia” (The Wall Street Journal), award-winning journalist Masha Gessen is unparalleled in her understanding of the events and forces that have wracked her native country in recent times. In The Future Is History, she follows the lives of four people born at what promised to be the dawn of democracy. Each of them came of age with unprecedented expectations, some as the children and grandchildren of the very architects of the new Russia, each with newfound aspirations of their own—as entrepreneurs, activists, thinkers, and writers, sexual and social beings.

Judges Citation

The Future Is History charts the coming-of-age of four Russians born in the early 1980s, just as the Soviet Union was opening up, and follows them from the optimistic peak of reform through the resurgence of authoritarianism under Vladimir Putin. Writing with the verve and empathy of a novel and the depth and perspective of an intellectual history, Masha Gessen diagnoses Russian society with “recurrent totalitarianism,” a chronic disease that was once in remission, but has lately resurged.


2016 National Book Awards - Masha Gessen (Full)