Lit Life When the news gets too hard to digest, I con­sole myself by read­ing books his­to­ry, and these I have been read­ing a lot of it. Part of it is a prim­i­tive “if you think things are bad now, con­sid­er the chaos of 1916” sort of con­so­la­tion. Then there’s that time­less prin­ci­ple that those who ignore the past are con­demned to repeat it, an often ignored truth first advanced by the philoso­pher George San­tayana. Here are some recent­ly pub­lished his­to­ry books that have filled up some gold­en after­noons. Pour a cool drink, find a shady spot and pre­pare to take some deep breaths along the : “ Putin: His Down­fall and Russia’s Com­ing Crash ” by Richard Lourie (St. Martin’s Press, 272 pp., $26.99) is a con­cise, clear-eyed, scary look at the Russ­ian dic­ta­tor whose great­est plea­sure seems to be to humil­i­ate Amer­i­ca and oth­er democ­ra­cies. In this book, Lourie, a man who has spent decades study­ing and writ­ing Rus­sia, gives his at explain­ing what makes Putin tick. Lourie ably cov­ers Putin’s life sto­ry — his from a street-smart St. Peters­burg kid to a KGB offi­cial for­ag­ing for intel­li­gence in Ger­many to […]