A Very Expensive Poison

  • by Luke Harding
  • Narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith
  • 13 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

On November 1, 2006, journalist and Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in London. He died 22 days later. The cause of death? Polonium - a rare, lethal, and highly radioactive substance. Here Luke Harding unspools a real-life political assassination story complete with KGB, CIA, MI6, and Russian mobsters. He shows how Litvinenko's murder foreshadowed the killings of other Kremlin critics, from Washington, DC, to Moscow, and how these are tied to Russia's current misadventures in Ukraine and Syria. In doing so he becomes a target himself and unearths a chain of corruption and death leading straight to Vladimir Putin. From his investigations of the downing of flight MH17 to the Panama Papers, Harding sheds a terrifying light on Russia's fracturing relationship with the West.

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What the Critics Say

"Harding's exposé, shortlisted for the CWA Nonfiction Dagger Award, could not be more chilling or timely.... A devastating and disturbing must-read." (Booklist)
"A chilling look at the Putin regime's murderous suppression of its critics.... In this fast-paced book, Harding, who was expelled from the Kremlin while serving as the Guardian's Moscow bureau chief, covers all the bases while exposing the weakness and accommodationism of the now-departed British leadership. Hard-hitting and timely given Russia's continued sway in international politics as well as its documented influence over an incoming American administration that is also hostile to the press." (Kirkus )
"Extraordinarily pacy...one of the best political thrillers I have come across in years." (The Evening Standard)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A very informative book.

I loved this book. I heard of it through an NPR interview of the author. I drive for a living, so audio is best for me; which leads me to the only tiny issue I had. I'm new to audio books so following a reader with a British accent was a slight challenge for me at first. I got use to it after the first 2 chapters... other than that.... it was wonderful and a very informative book and listening experience.
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- william

Cover-To-Cover, This'll Have You Mindblown!

Who can forget the iconic photo of Litvinenko, gaunt, bald, dying in his hospital bed, the victim of the most chilling kind of assassination straight out of a le Carre spy novel? It's haunting.
This expose will leave you reeling. You don't even feel the 13+ hours going by as it's such a gripping, horrifying tale of threats made real, of NEVER being able to speak your mind, to speak of anything.
It's a tale of mobsters, of comical (if they weren't so deadly) assassins, of archaic poisons and your run-of-the-mill bullets to the head. It's an account of radiation leaving near-fatal trails, of dedicated and always thwarted detectives, of courtroom dramas. It's of vindication that means absolutely nothing.
You think Putin is scary? Read/listen to this book and you'll have nightmares.
Meticulously researched by a journalist who lived in Russia and had his apartment broken into and bugged many times, this is a throat-grabbing (literally for some victims) story that is well-crafted, and superbly narrated. The evidence laid out is astounding, and when it's iffy, it's specifically stated as "circumstantial".
And it'll mean nothing, nothing to governments...
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- Gillian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-24-2017
  • Publisher: Random House Audio