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Russian journalist Masha Gessen to talk Trump, Putin at Midtown Scholar

Gessen will discuss and sign copies of her newest book, “The Future is History,” at Midtown Scholar on Nov. 20. Images courtesy of Penguin Random House.

If you’ve spent the last day glued to coverage of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, mark your calendar for Nov. 20.

Masha Gessen, a journalist, author, and leading voice on contemporary Russia, will speak at Midtown Scholar at 6:30 p.m. that Monday evening about her newest work of nonfiction, “The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.” Gessen will also sign copies of the book, which is a National Book Award finalist.

Gessen was born in Russia and emigrated to America with her family as a young child. She rose to prominence with the 2012 publication of her book, “The Man Without a Face,” a biography of Vladimir Putin. Since then, she’s emerged as a vocal critic of Putin and a prescient commentator on the conditions that lead to state autocracy.

Since the election of President Donald Trump, Gessen has penned articles and made media appearances about his relationship to Russia. She disputes claims that Trump is an agent of the Kremlin, but argues that he ran as an autocrat in the style of Putin.

Alex Brubaker, manager of Midtown Scholar Bookstore, said the event couldn’t come at a better time.

“As one of the foremost critics of Putin and authoritarian regimes, Gessen provides a unique lens in which to view the current state of American politics,” Brubaker said. “Even before the Mueller probe intensified, even before her book made the shortlist for the National Book Award, I knew we wanted to get her in to Harrisburg to hear her insights on Russia and the language of autocrats.”

“The Future is History” follows four Russians who were born at the twilight of the Soviet Union and came of age as Russia liberalized – a process that began under Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s and ended with the ascent of Putin in 2000.

Gessen argues that Putin set the country on a backwards trajectory to its old Soviet order, creating a Mafia-like state and eviscerating civil liberties in the process.

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is not guaranteed. Members of the public can secure general admission seating by purchasing a copy of Gessen’s book through Midtown Scholar. Books are available in the store or can be pre-ordered online and picked up at Midtown Scholar the night of the event.

For more information, including a link to buy books, see

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