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Steeped in authoritarianism, secrecy and corruption, Russia continues to baffle and frustrate the West. Why is it the way it is? Traversing this vast country from the violent Caucasus to Arctic Siberia, journalist Gregory Feifer interviews hundreds of people, from oligarchs to beggars on Moscow's streets, about everything from sex and vodka to Russia's relations with the world. What emerges is a picture of a society bursting with vitality under a tradition-bound leadership often on the verge of collapse. Slightly off-mint.