Masha Gessen's book is making me feel misanthropic (I'm halfway through the chapter about the Bialystok Ghetto and Masha's great-grandfather). And the opposite, too: it's a torture reading this book at coffee houses, trying not to cry when there're so many people around.
It's a very good book, very interesting. Though it did take me some time to get used to the format: so different from Masha's concise, pointed magazine pieces... Like here, in this description of the Moscow Institute of History, Philosophy and Literature in 1940 - a beautiful image, followed by three lines of the seemingly unnecessary explanation:
This was a community of writers, virtually none of whom kept a journal: private notes could be, and often were, used to convict their author of treason, espionage or whatever other absurd charge happened to be advanced.
It's also quite amazing to be reading Masha Gessen's book right after Azar Nafisi's one... Another reason to feel misanthropic.