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In 1993, Anne Garrels set out to discover what Russia was like outside of Moscow. She threw a pencil at a map and it landed on Chelyabinsk, a military-industrial town that had just opened up to foreigners.

Garrels returned repeatedly to Chelyabinsk, interviewing locals to drawthis portrait of the “Real Russia.” A former NPR foreign correspondent, she knows how to find and write engaging stories covering topics that range from the business world to medical care and freedom of religion.

All in all, Garrels offers a fascinating window onto the lives of contemporary Russians, their general admiration for Vladimir Putin, and the “identity crisis over where their country fits into the overall global scheme.” (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux)

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