The author’s brave foray into this dangerous scenario is the reason much of this information is known. She covers the entire trail, including details on how enemies of the Kremlin end up missing or dead; much insight was gained through firsthand interviews with subjects involved ... Fans of Blake’s work, along with readers curious about spymasters across the globe and the ways in which Russia tries to infiltrate other governments, will be astonished at the level of detail provided here.
Much of what we know about the Salisbury incident and the Malaysian plane attack derives from the brilliant online forensic experts at Bellingcat, who have partnered with the Russian investigative outfit The Insider. If you are used to their meticulous style, dispassionate voice, methodological transparency and groundbreaking conclusions, From Russian With Blood might come as a disappointment ... Still, the book is worth reading for its recap of more than a dozen murder and suspicious death stories that happened over two decades. It also provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of Russia's most illustrious oligarch-turned-anti-Putin-rebel and his ragtag band of business associates, shady fixers, Chechen fighters, former security agents and spin doctors ... Blake's book appears to be largely based on accounts provided by people who found themselves within Berezovsky's gravitational field at various points in time, as well as on intelligence sources in Britain and the U.S...Sadly, these sources bring their own individual spin and narratives that warrant a much greater deal of scepticism — especially since the author herself pictures Berezovsky's circle as a bunch of extremely dodgy characters or outright crooks ... Blake makes no attempt to go beyond Berezovsky's extremely dubious argument ... The author's personal lack of expertise in post-Soviet matters shows in a bombastic analysis of recent ex-Soviet history ... The book's greatest weakness, though, is that the attempt to explain this entire chain of deaths as a part of a single murderous plan just fails both in political and investigative terms. There is no breakthrough whatsoever in explaining the political motives and operational logic behind all of these real and suspected crimes ... this book fails to capture the messy nature of Russian politics in an attempt to paint a grotesque picture of Putin as the maniac responsible for all the evil that exists.
Though well-researched, the narrative sometimes bogs down in the author’s discussions of Russian and British politics. When Blake focuses on the circumstances surrounding the murders, the narrative moves more smoothly ... An uneven but still useful documentation of the disturbing reach of a dangerous world leader.