The Book Club

Better Than the Alternative

Dear Anne,

Closing out this exchange for now—but looking forward to continuing it at any time and in any format you want—I’d just say two things (in reverse order from the way you raised them).

First, as for my answer to your question about Dudayev’s death, I conceded nothing of the kind. I told you I didn’t know the answer to your question but that I strongly doubted there was any truth to that particular conspiracy theory. So don’t be under the illusion that you’ve got a hot revelation there. Any that I felt like sharing are in the book.

Second, we do indeed have a disagreement on Russia’s choice and not just in how to describe it. What you call “one sort of corrupt semi-capitalism—Yeltin’s oligarchic capitalism” is, in my view, not only simplistically and invidiously described, it’s also—by that or any other name—very different from, and better than, the Communist/Nationalist alternative that was a very real and dangerous possibility, in my view, for much of the ‘90s. Fortunately, we’ll never know whether you’re right, since I think the latter possibility—so very real a few years ago—is receding.

See you around, at least in cyberspace.