As an influx of news comes out about Russia‘s potential influence on the U.S., many Americans may be curious to learn more about the country’s recent history. What has motivated Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and what defines its president, Vladimir Putin?

In times of rapid breaking news and quickly shifting political positions, it can be helpful to take a step back and read something substantive for context. TIME asked experts from the Atlantic Council, the Wilson Center and other institutions to recommend books on Russia that would be accessible and illuminating for the general interest reader. Here are the volumes they suggested, covering everything from Kremlinology to the country’s cyber landscape.

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