Overview (via Goodreads):
The assassination of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander “Sasha” Litvinenko in November 2006 — poisoned by the rare radioactive element polonium — caused an international sensation. Within a few short weeks, the fit forty-three-year-old lay gaunt, bald, and dying in a hospital, the victim of a “tiny nuclear bomb.” Suspicions swirled around Russia’s FSB, the successor to the KGB, and the Putin regime. Traces of polonium radiation were found in Germany and on certain airplanes, suggesting a travel route from Russia for the carriers of the fatal poison. But what really happened? What did Litvinenko know? And why was he killed? The full story of Sasha Litvinenko’s life and death is one that the Kremlin does not want told. His closest friend, Alex Goldfarb, and his widow, Marina, are the only two people who can tell it all, from firsthand knowledge, with dramatic scenes from Moscow to London to Washington. Death of a Dissident reads like a political thriller, yet its story is more fantastic and frightening than any novel.Ever since 1998, when Litvinenko denounced the FSB for ordering him to assassinate tycoon Boris Berezovsky, he had devoted his life to exposing the FSB’s darkest secrets. After a dramatic escape to London with Goldfarb’s assistance, he spent six years, often working with Goldfarb, investigating a widening series of scandals. Oligarchs and journalists have been assassinated. Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yuschenko was poisoned on the campaign trail. The war in Chechnya became unspeakably harsh on both sides. Sasha Litvinenko investigated all of it, and he denounced his former employers in no uncertain terms for their dirty deeds.Death of a Dissident opens a window into the dark heart of the Putin Kremlin. With its strong-arm tactics, tight control over the media, and penetration of all levels of government, the old KGB is back with a vengeance. Sasha Litvinenko dedicated his life to exposing this truth. It took his diabolical murder for the world to listen.
Product details (via Goodreads):
Hardcover, 370 pages
Published June 30th 2007 by Simon & Schuster Ltd (first published May 1st 2007)
ISBN 1847370810 (ISBN13: 9781847370815)
Biographies and life stories of any kind are not my favorite type of reading. I didn’t know why until some time ago, because there are some biographies I’d love to read, but the reading is usually slow and difficult for me. After giving it some thought I think I found out why. The characters are people like me and you. I don’t know them, but they are human beings. And sometimes what it’s written is so hard to read when we think that it is a real story, that it really happened. This book is one of the main examples I can find to express how hard it can be to read about someone else’s life.
I read it 2 years ago, and I read it quite fast, considering the number of pages, the type of book and the free time I had. It still hurts when I think about some paragraphs. Hurts me because Sasha (AKA Alexander Litvinenko) was a human being and he suffered, and his family is still suffering.
This is a disturbing book. Sometimes it was hard for me to believe it wasn’t fiction. The murder is stranger and more disturbing than any other murder I read about in fiction books.
I think the whole details about Russian politics are important, specially for me since I like to learn about everything, but sometimes it was a bit tiring to read about it. Sometimes it seemed to me that the story was more about the Russian politics than about Sasha himself.
Sasha is the man who the story is about. The first known victim of polonium poisoning. When I was reading I tried to picture in my mind his last days. His pain, the way he looked, his family thoughts and his own thoughts. He was an officer for the Soviet KGB and after that for the FSB (KGB’s successor). Later he became a spy for MI6 and the Spanish Secret Service.
Sasha was arrested and some time later he went to live with his family to London, where asylum was granted. He became a journalist and a writer.
In November of the year 2006, Sasha felt ill and was hospitalized. That’s when they found out he was being poisoned with polonium. He died not even a month after the hospitalization.
It’s a cruel, naked book that shows us a rude reality. It wasn’t one of those books that made me cry; it shocked me.
His wife, Marina, who is still living in London with their children, is one of the writers of this book.