A real-life political assassination story--complete with KGB, CIA, MI5, and Russian mobsters--that reverberates from the streets of London to the deadly halls of today's Kremlin. A Vintage Original.
On November 1, 2006, journalist and Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London. He died twenty-two days later. The cause of death was Polonium--a rare, lethal, and highly radioactive substance. This is the inside story of the life and death of Litvinenko. And it is the story of the aftermath: a decade of geopolitical disruptions still felt today. In A Very Expensive Poison, Luke Harding guides readers through a maze of spies, intrigue, organized crime, and political power players to uncover the truth about Litvinenko's murder. In doing so, not only does he also become a target, but he also unearths a chain of corruption and death leading straight to Vladimir Putin, which sheds terrifying light on Russia's secret war with the West.
Harding (The Snowden Files), a foreign correspondent for The Guardian, covers the 2006 poisoning of Russian exile Litvinenko in informative detail and sensationalist style. Drawing on interviews, original reportage, and a British public inquiry, Harding reiterates the inquiry's findings: Litvinenko was the victim of a political assassination that was indistinguishable from a gangland hit. Born in 1962, Litvinenko had been an officer of the FSB, Russia's national security service (and KGB successor), until he tipped off a friend, oligarch Boris Berezovsky, about a planned attempt on Berezovsky's life. Fleeing the wrath of Berezovsky's would-be assassins, in 2000 Litvinenko and his family found refuge in London, where Litvinenko became a security advisor, MI6 informant, and dissident speaking out against Russian president Vladimir Putin and his "mafia state." A casual meeting with two business associates, Andrey Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, cut short Litvinenko's activities. According to forensics experts following a trail of radiation, the two had been transporting polonium, which ended up in Litvinenko's tea, killing him within weeks. The public inquiry found that Litvinenko was certainly killed by Lugovoi and Kovtun, the flunkeys of an FSB operation that was "probably approved" by Putin. Harding suitably conveys the shocking, violent, and tragic story of a man whose murder has gone unpunished.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Needs heavy copy-editing
So far I'm only 10% through the book. The subject is interesting, but only after reading this book did I come to fully appreciate the eloquent language of practically every other book I've read. It is painful to read this book. I'm not just talking about the occasional grammatical error, but about poor choice of words and sentence structure. I feel bad complaining about language, because the book deals with such important issues. But I also feel the book could be so much better—and convey the subject matter much more clearly—if a copy-editor worked through it. Please.