Garry Kasparov: "Winter is Coming—Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped"
(Hosted by The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies)
The stunning story of Russia’s slide back into a dictatorship—and how the West is now paying the price for allowing it to happen.
The ascension of Vladimir Putin—a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB—to the presidency of Russia in 1999 was a strong signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Yet in the intervening years—as America and the world’s other leading powers have continued to appease him—Putin has grown not only into a dictator but an international threat. With his vast resources and nuclear arsenal, Putin is at the center of a worldwide assault on political liberty and the modern world order.
For Garry Kasparov, none of this is news. He has been a vocal critic of Putin for over a decade, even leading the pro-democracy opposition to him in the farcical 2008 presidential election. Yet years of seeing his Cassandra-like prophecies about Putin’s intentions fulfilled have left Kasparov with a darker truth: Putin’s Russia, like ISIS or Al Qaeda, defines itself in opposition to the free countries of the world.
As Putin has grown ever more powerful, the threat he poses has grown from local to regional and finally to global. In this urgent book, Kasparov shows that the collapse of the Soviet Union was not an endpoint—only a change of seasons, as the Cold War melted into a new spring. But now, after years of complacency and poor judgment, winter is once again upon us.
Argued with the force of Kasparov’s world-class intelligence, conviction, and hopes for his home country, Winter Is Coming reveals Putin for what he is: an existential danger hiding in plain sight.
Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, in the Soviet Union in 1963, Garry Kasparov became the under-18 chess champion of the USSR at the age of 12 and the world under-20 champion at 17. He came to international fame at the age of 22 as the youngest world chess champion in history in 1985. He defended his title five times, including a legendary series of matches against arch-rival Anatoly Karpov. Kasparov broke Bobby Fischer’s rating record in 1990 and his own peak rating record remained unbroken until 2013. His famous matches against the IBM super-computer Deep Blue in 1996-97 were key to bringing artificial intelligence, and chess, into the mainstream.
Kasparov’s outspoken nature did not endear him to the Soviet authorities, giving him an early taste of opposition politics. In 1990, he and his family escaped ethnic violence in his native Baku as the USSR collapsed. Kasparov, in his 20th year as the world’s top-ranked player, abruptly retired from competitive chess in 2005 to join the vanguard of the Russian pro-democracy movement. He founded the United Civil Front and organized the Marches of Dissent to protest the repressive policies of Vladimir Putin. In 2012, Kasparov was named chairman of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, succeeding Vaclav Havel. Facing imminent arrest during Putin’s crackdown, Kasparov moved from Moscow to New York City in 2013.
The US-based Kasparov Chess Foundation non-profit promotes the teaching of chess in education systems around the world. Its program already in use in schools across the United States, KCF also has centers in Brussels, Johannesburg, Singapore, and Mexico City. Garry and his wife Dasha travel frequently to promote the proven benefits of chess in education and have toured Africa extensively. Kasparov is the author of two award-winning series of chess books, My Great Predecessors and Modern Chess.
Kasparov’s book How Life Imitates Chess on decision-making is available in over 20 languages. He has been a contributing editor to the Wall Street Journal since 1991 and is a regular commentator on politics and human rights. He speaks frequently to business audiences around the world on innovation, strategy, decision-making, and achieving peak mental performance. In 2013, he was named a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Oxford-Martin School with a focus on human-machine collaboration and cross-disciplinary futurism.
Kasparov’s eagerly awaited new book, Winter Is Coming: Why Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped, will be released in October 2015.