Is Luke Harding Taking A Leaf From Figes?

I recently noticed with some amusement that despite the free, prominent advertising given to hack Luke Harding’s book “Mafia State” on The Guardian, to date it has garnered only 6 reviews on Amazon UK and 3 reviews on Amazon US.

(Neither was his book on Wikileaks with David Leigh much more successful either. It got 11 reviews, of which almost half gave one star. Not so surprising considering their sordid and deeply dishonest conduct towards Assange).

However, Alex Mercouris noticed a most curious thing.

Interesting. Notice that one of the reviewers called “D.P. McGowan” says that Harding repeats says that “Kremlin paid bloggers” are “trying to discredit” Harding’s journalism and his book. Sound familiar?

It does indeed, doesn’t it?

But what makes this (London-based, like The Guardian) “D.P. McGowan” fellow, who gave Harding 5 stars, all the more suspicious is that he has just two reviews to his name on Amazon. Both are for Harding’s book Mafia State in its UK and US editions.

Furthermore, he was not the only commentator to leave praise for the book with only one Amazon review to his/her name. Same goes for “CalliopeArtana” (5 stars) and “Sheila” (4 stars).

Four out of the nine Amazon reviews that Harding’s book got gave it glowing praise and came from commentators with no other reviews on that site.

Is Luke Harding pulling a Figes on us?

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. By the way as I mentioned at the time on Mark Chapman’s blog I actually had the pleasure a few months ago of meeting Luke Harding at a showing of a Russian documentary film about gangsters at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn in north London. I found him every bit as bizarre in the flesh as he is in print. It just struck me that he was complaining that a meeting he had previously addressed in London had been disrupted by Kremlin agents. I think the man suffers from a persecution complex (as well as having a mighty high opinion of himself),

  2. Jennifer Hor says

    AK, Alex,

    I followed the link attached to “Sheila” and found a comment on that mentions that Luke Harding’s wife Phoebe Taplin worked for The Moscow News (located in the same building as Russia Today). Taplin wrote a series of books about walking in Moscow during different times of the year, one of which was reviewed in The Guardian last year. (Note that her name isn’t highlighted in blue which means we can’t click on it and read a short one-sentence biography, unlike with most other one-off articles.)

    Here’s a link to her blog (Moscow walks):

    I’m visualising the scene of domestic harmony between the two: Harding, holed up in his study with his Cold War paranoid fantasies of Putin as Oberfuhrer presiding over a Brave New World state of robots, too afraid to venture into the outside world in case it upsets his befogged imagination, and his wife cheerily wandering the streets of Moscow, taking photos and talking to people, then coming home and downloading and sorting all her pictures onto her blog, recording her impressions and writing her travel guides. Caught between the two extremes are their two children wondering who to believe. This should have been a reality TV show or sitcom.

    • Moscow Exile says

      I always found it rather strange that Harding, when he was the Guardian correspondent in Moscow, regularly criticised the lack of press freedom in Russia, a state where, according to him, the news media is strictly controlled by Putin and none dare utter a word of criticism against the president and the government, whereas at the same time his wife was scribbling away for the Moscow Times.

      • So that nobody would suspect a democratic journalist like himself of stealing ideas from the Kremlin-controlled media.

    • She seems like a nice women and she likes Moscow – walking around Moscow is not for everyone, some people get traumatised (pedestrian unfriendly city). How on earth did she end up marrying such a jerk?

  3. Thanks Jennifer,

  4. There are a lot of reasons to be suspicious of fishy online book reviews. Here’s another:
    Perhaps fortunately, my own books haven’t garnered enough attention for something like this to be an issue! =)