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New York Times

Book Review: “Midnight Diaries” by Boris Yeltsin

Reviewied by Michael Specter

By the last days of the last millennium, there was very little left that Boris Yeltsin could do to astonish the people of Russia. He had embraced more than a half-dozen prime ministers and scores of senior aides during his decade of power — only to toss them one by one from the Kremlin bell tower. In 1991, when he stood on the top of a tank to stare down a coup, his impulsiveness was heroic. Two years later, when he shelled a mutinous parliament into submission, it still seemed understandable. Read more »

Book Review: “Archangel” by Robert Harris

Reviewed by Michael Specter

The cold war wasn't good for much, but it certainly was a terrific time for thrillers: the East and West were so neatly divided, the atmosphere so ominously noir, and everything fit so well into a world in which the angels of democracy were destined always to live in conflict with the alluring tug of the devil. Read more »

Urgency Tempers Ethics Concerns in Uganda Trial of AIDS Vaccine

KAMPALA, Uganda–Raphael Nawiro got up extra early one steamy morning this summer. He walked a mile from his home, then took two long bus rides until he reached Uganda's principal medical complex, the aging, overburdened Old Mulago Hospital. Read more »

Breast-feeding and H.I.V.

Weighing Health Risks
by Michael Specter

KAKULU, Uganda — This village is really just a muddy patch of ground in the tall trees near where the Nile flows out of Lake Victoria. The men work on coffee plantations. The women bear children, fetch water from the well about a mile away and cultivate cassava, potatoes and bananas. Read more »

My Boris

As one of the few remaining people with frequent access to the increasingly volcanic President of Russia, Valentin Yumashev knows when to step lightly. So it was with careful planning–and a slightly queasy stomach–that the Kremlin chief of staff decided to present an important document to Boris Yeltsin one day this spring. Read more »

The Baby Bust: A Special Report

Population Implosion Worries a Graying Europe
by Michael Specter

Mia Hulton is a true woman of the late 20th century. Soft-spoken, well-educated and thoughtful, she sings Renaissance music in a choral group, lives quietly with the man she loves and works like a demon seven days a week. Read more »

Viewing Solzhenitsyn Through a Freudian Lens

Alexander Solzhenitsyn: A Century in his Life
by Michael Specter

Nobody can quite figure out what to do about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. He is one of the century's most important writers, but it has been decades since he produced a book worth talking about. A bearded, inflexible prophet whose blazing truths were too much for a police state to bear, Solzhenitsyn was forcibly ejected from the Soviet Union and immediately transformed into a living martyr. Read more »

Contraband Women – A Special Report

Traffickers' New Cargo: Naive Slavic Women
by Michael Specter

RAMLE, Israel–Irina always assumed that her beauty would somehow rescue her from the poverty and hopelessness of village life. A few months ago, after answering a vague ad in a small Ukrainian newspaper, she slipped off a tour boat when it put in at Haifa, hoping to make a bundle dancing naked on the tops of tables. Read more »

At a Western Outpost of Russia, AIDS Spreads ‘Like a Forest Fire’

KALININGRAD, Russia, Oct. 29 The young man sitting before the psychiatrist stared darkly at the wall and bit his lip to keep from crying. He had answered a dozen questions about his sexual habits and absorbed in silence a lecture about how AIDS would change his life. Read more »

Pristine Russian Far East Sees Its Fate in Gold

ESSO, Russia–The basic view from this mountain village hasn't changed for 7, 000 years, since a giant reservoir of molten lava crested over to form the mighty peak of Asia's largest and most active volcano. Eagles and falcons dance through the crisp air. Not far away, the world's biggest population of grizzly bears– shaking off their winter slumber–forage for salmon as big as dogs. Read more »