Lying Together: My Russian Affair

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In January 1998, while the rest of her newsroom is chasing the Monica Lewinsky story, television journalist Jennifer Cohen gets a lead that takes her out of covering that scandal and deep into another one—the trafficking of sex slaves from the former Soviet Union into the United States. Knowing that the college crush she never quite forgot works for a St. Petersburg newspaper, she hires him to help out. Much to their surprise, they fall madly in love over thousands of miles of telephone line. Within weeks, Cohen finds herself engaged to marry a man she barely knows and on a plane to Russia. No one could have predicted the total collapse that followed—of the Russian economy, of her fiancé’s sobriety, of Cohen’s mental health and physical safety, and of her professional aspirations.
Cohen’s vivid descriptions of her life in anything-goes Moscow—bribing government officials, meeting pimps in back alleys for interviews, being told by her boss to perpetuate American clichés about Russia in her pieces—are a colorful counterpart to the despair and loneliness that replaces the love between Cohen and her betrothed. Their battles with prescription drugs, alcoholic rages, and physical abuse are recounted with perspective and wit, offering a smart, poignant, and unvarnished look at a complicated relationship in a complicated land.

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