Russian Roulette:  ~ by Michael Isikoff and David Corn

This is,  in my opinion,  the clearest and most comprehensive book on the background to the current state of affairs in the ongoing confusion regarding Russian interference in US election 2016 –  at least that I have read so far.  It was published a bit earlier than some of the book I’ve read, (from Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff – link to my review)  but it is also less specialized in content.  It does a wonderful job of filling in my blanks on the whole thing –   and I have more books to go because I’m definitely interested in the matter.

Russian Roulette was first published back in March of 2018 – (so it only goes up to about the July G20 Summit of 2017, a bit olde now perhaps,  compared to some others on the market (is there a new one every day?),   but from the reviews I skimmed,  it seemed valuable as a “first step … toward putting together a complete story,”    so I picked it up and started reading.


Russian Roulette:   The Inside Story of Russia’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump – 
by Michael Isikoff and David Corn
2018 /  353 pages  –  Twelve (publisher)
read by Peter Ganin
Rating:   9.5  / current events (politics) 

By Chapter 3 I was so impressed – the subtitle reads,  “The Inside Story of Russia’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”  And that’s what it is –  a lot of background from Trump’s desire to do more and bigger business in Russia,  the 2006 assassination of Putin’s Russian critics Politkovskaya and her London-based friend Litvinenko;   the early attempts by the Obama administration to reset the Russia/US relations via Hillary Clinton;   Putin’s political doings in Moscow;  the Ukraine issue (that’s a BIGGIE!);  spies and contacts;  the Magnitsky Act;   ex-ambassador Michael McFaul’s difficulties;  cyber-warfare and espionage with its multitude of forms, sources and victims;  Trump’s unsavory business acquaintances including Felix Sater,  Roy Cohn, Paul Manafort and others –  American and Russian;  –  even Maria Butina as well as Michael J. Flynn.    And then it goes on to tell the stories of the Democratic headquarters break-in,  WikiLeaks,   Comey and Clinton’s email,  Carter Page,  the Republican Convention,   Clinton’s campaign,  Trump’s personnel changes,  etc – and so on – with more … the Obama administration’s failures.

It fits well with the other books I’ve read and it’s a somewhat more balanced view of the situation as a whole.

Nicely written,  both Michael Isikoff and David Corn are knowledgeable journalists,  in clear language and using a basically chronological organization, the book uses some good technique in building suspense within a tension driven story arc.   It keeps the reader turning pages,  listening for hour after hour as more is revealed and put in place.

I got a couple hours into it on the Audible version and realized I wanted to see the Notes and Russian names and other material –  so I got the Kindle version.   It was a good move and I started over although I was generally pretty clear about it to that point.  It’s hard to do any kind of careful reading with Audible alone.

The authors do not spare Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton,  but the emphasis is definitely on the Russian game and how Trump himself apparently willingly,  eagerly (?),  made himself available as a big player.  At first he still wanted a Trump Tower in Moscow,  later he also wanted revenge on Obama and losing his big deals.   That said,  Trump was never all too clear about what was going on regarding Russian/Putin goals or motives.

Some of it is repetitive of what’s in other books,  but by no means all or even most.  Quite a lot of it is different –  the relevant Miss Universe pageants,  the Magnitsky sanctions,  various social media hoaxes,  Roger Stone and that bunch,  etc. plus the Christopher Steele dossier and Lieut. Gen. Michael Flynn.

The book adds details not appropriate to other narratives I’ve read   (The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder,  A Higher Loyalty by James Comey,  The Death of Truth by Michiko Kikutani,  The Perfect Weapon by David E. Sanger). –  (Links to my reviews on this site.)

Trump’s ties to seriously unsavory and possibly organized crime is outlined throughout the book along with his increasing.appeal to the Evangelical Christians. Isikoff and Corn cover the secret “meetings” with Russians,  the infamous Billy Bush Hollywood tape,  and the Comey re-opening of the investigation into Clinton’s last lost emails and finally,  the beginning of the Robert Mueller investigation,  it’s pretty comprehensive –

This all led up to and into the election of 2016 and the firing of James Comey.

In my general interest in the US political situation these day (omg) I keep reading –  there seems to be more and more revealed – more developing as well as uncovered and so … more published by reliable reporters,  participants,  etc.  I have to alternate regular fiction/nonfiction and crime novels with these current events books.

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7 Responses to Russian Roulette:  ~ by Michael Isikoff and David Corn

  1. I thought this was a really good book, too. It’s interesting to me how people they mention pop up again in the news accounts. This book really did help me put the pieces together (at least the pieces that are currently known!).


  2. Carmen says:

    Good luck with this emerging interest and research. 😉 It seems to me that there has been so much focus on Trump and a possible collusion with the Russians to get him elected, that we have forgotten all about the misdeeds of Hillary Clinton and the missteps of the Obama administration in terms of domestic, and more importantly, foreign policy.

    Hillary’s e-mails were not lost; they were deleted on purpose. The purpose of that was never established and it seems no one is interested in finding out. While we are wasting tax payers resources on seeding political discord–through the Russian probe, Avenatti’s investigation, which is another distraction because the affair with Stormy Daniels didn’t happen while he was President, or even while he was campaigning–it would be interesting to explore what has happened to the former united Democratic Party. Not only it seems to have imploded under the (highly unexpected and improbable) Trump phenomenon, but it seems that it is leaning ever more towards the left, and by that I mean real, RED, left. The press have shrouded Trump’s Presidency in a curtain of smoke, so that it has become practically impossible to ascertain what accomplishments, if any, the man has had during his period in Office. I suppose doing so is intentional as it may prevent the man from running (or winning) a successful re-election campaign. What is left to see is if the Democratic Party can present a viable campaigner who is able to win the Presidency they covet so much.


  3. Yesterday I pre-ordered Bob Woodward’s new book about what it’s like inside the White House. It’s kinda like the old Watergate days — reading Woodward and Bernstein to get the inside dirt! Only this crooked President is a lot more dangerous than Nixon was — though I despised Nixon.

    Liked by 1 person

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