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The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia Paperback – March 27, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1997, two American college-educated slackers began publishing the eXile, a no-holds-barred newspaper, in Moscow. The paper includes irreverent discussions of Russia's sex and drug scene and off-color humor pieces, such as an article poking fun at a U.S. African-American basketball player who was toiling for a Moscow team after he was kicked out of the NBA following a forced sodomy charge in the U.S. Their attitude toward Russia's expatriate community, including themselves, is clear: "Any affluent or even middle-class American who renounces the good life of sushi and 50-channel cable delivery" is "motivated by a highly destructive personality defect." The pranks the newspaper plays are entertaining: convincing an aide to Mikhail Gorbachev that New York Jets football coach Bill Parcells wanted the former Soviet leader to give a series of inspirational pep talks to his team, for example. The eXile also takes on the herd mentality of reporters, managing to convince one of its rival papers that basketball hall-of-famer Wilt Chamberlain was considering a comeback in Russia. (In between its humor and its testosterone, the eXile has reported some important stories, most notably that much aid money from the U.S. went directly into the hands of some top Russian politicians.) Only those with a National Lampoon mentality will enjoy the descriptions of the editors' sexual conquests and their comparisons of Russian and American women. Like much of the paper itself, the book, which recounts the newspaper's history, is tasteless. There's little doubt, however, that both incisively probe contemporary Russian reality--and the expatriate mindset. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Full of drugs, sex, and booze, this book initially strikes one as an ode to bad taste. The authors, editors of the English-language Moscow tabloid newspaper The eXile, know this: "we stood for all the wrong things--but at least we weren't bores." True enough. Still, Chapter 3 has good reporting on USAID, the World Bank/IMF, and the Investor Protection Fund and how they waste money and benefit the Russian rich. Similarly, Chapter 8 contains news items (e.g., former Yeltsin adviser Anatoly Chubais's "loans-for-shares" auctions) incorrectly analyzed in the Moscow press, along with the correct analysis by the editors of The eXile. The authors also describe The eXile's first year, 1997, which one editor saw as his "first experience...with taking life seriously." Like most coming-of-age stories, this is bittersweet. Recommended for academic libraries collecting in Russian studies or journalism.
---Bert Beynen, Des Moines Area Community Coll. Lib., IA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st edition (March 27, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802136524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802136527
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By K. M. Sherrod on January 26, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As the subtitle might indicate, this is not a book for the faint of heart, nor is it a straight-up history, though the portrait it paints of post-Soviet Russia from the early '90s to 1998 is pretty vivid in all its pornographic, bloody, vomitous, sexist glory, making it a pretty damned good history anyway.
The book is divided into eight chapters, four written by Ames and four by Taibbi. Many readers have complained that Ames' sections of the book are Waholianly dull, too petty, personal, splenous, what have you, while praising Taibbi's sections for their directness, adherence to and expressed admiration for basic journalistic principles and (false, false, false) relative modesty. But I will go on the record as admiring both.
Ames... poor Ames. A lot of his stuff will make readers cringe, but for every one of his self-pitying narratives about scabies or his girlfriend or his dependence on speed whenever left to get an issue of the eXile out by himself, there are still gems of hilarious realism like the following:
"What people forget in every article ever written about drugs is one simple, basic fact. PEOPLE TAKE DRUGS BECAUSE THEY'RE FUN. That's it. There's no mystery to the drug thing. Peiople drink water to quench their thirst, they have sex because it feels good; and they do drugs because they're fun...
Even Hunter S. and William Burroughs couldn't stait it that plainly;: they elevated drugs to the mythical level, keeping mum on the single most obvious, dangerous fact. So I'll repeat: PEOPLE DO DRUGS BECAUSE THEY'RE FUN. It's no different from alcohol or roller coasters except that drugs are A LOT BETTER.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Kirill Pankratov on July 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
Perhaps one of the reasons (in a sort of cause- and-effect logical warp) that this book should have been written is some excerpts of its reviews on its own back cover: "Brazen, irreverent ... the eXile struggles with the harsh truth of the new century Russia" (CNN), "...welcome to the life on capitalism's new frontier..." (Newsweek). One can't get much blah-blahnder than that - seemingly playing along the book's irreverence and channeling it into safe acceptable notions.
Following any standards is not what authors had in mind. Among their goals - if any - they proclaim "... is protecting Russia from going the way of Prague. From becoming a domesticated, obedient member of the Global Village".
One of the more astute observations in "The Exile" is about Moscow numerous "expats" community, for which the authors readily have inexhaustible amount of scorn and derision. By the early '90-s there wasn't a shortage of Westerners, particularly Americans, plodding Moscow streets. Romantic idealists, careerists wishing to nail a fashionable piece of "emerging markets" on their resumes, fly-by-night sleazebags and crooks, hopeless losers of various sorts trying to make it "on the new frontier" and then running back, tail between the legs, and writing ridiculous "revelations" like "Moscow Madness". One of the most conspicuous crowds were the hordes of Western young MBA consultants and advisers, the likes of what is known as "Andersen androids" and similar telling nicknames. It was a peculiar bunch. They mostly stuffed "...
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Michael Bass on May 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a former Moscow resident, I was in many a run-in with authors Ames and Taibbi, and not always on friendliest of terms. Indeed, no small amount of the titular libel in "the eXile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia," their tell-all book about the decadent glory days of mid-90s Moscow, is directed toward yours truly and the boys' longstanding feud with myself -- so it seems they're still earning points at my expense! Even if most of what they say about me is exagerated, if not falsehood, I hold no grudges. For in spite of all their showy spleen and venting of frivolous personal vendettas, Ames and Taibbi can't help but write about the Moscow they love with a warmth and glow that is unmatched anywhere. From the get-rich-quick schemes, to the shady deals, to the fast living and fancy cars and, yes, the prostitutes, this book describes it all to a T -- with wit, compassion, and honesty. Of course, if you were there in Moscow in the mid-to-late 1990s you probably don't need to read the book -- you lived the dream. But for all others, this book is as close as you'll probably come to having been there in the flesh. My Moscow gone by... I miss it so.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
At times in this book I wanted to go and wash my hands, but then realize I prefered to turn the page and see what happened next. Although couched in an easily readable prose, I didn't care as much about the internal strife and difficulties it took to start and sustain an alternative newspaper, but the glimpse of post-Soviet Russia was something which is hard to find elsewhere.
This book made me take a step back and re-analyze the schlock that "major" newspapers are willing to print. I may not have wanted to be fast friends with Ames or Taibbi, but it's good to know there are yellow journalists out there willing to put their lives on the line to challenge the status quo. This book seemed to encapsulize exactly what the eXile was about -- the humor of those who take themselves too seriously, the outlandishness of excess, and ultimately the truth of what lies behind a carefully sculpted facade of Western media spin.
Kudos to Grove/Atlantic to have the fortitude to publish this controversial work!
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