Z Generation

Into the Heart of Russia’s Fascist Youth

Part of the New Perspectives on Eastern Europe and Eurasia series
May 2023 9781787389281 256pp
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


Read an extract in The Times.

How did Vladimir Putin win Russians’ support for his genocidal war in Ukraine and why are so many of them willing to embrace fascism? This vivid, bottom-up narrative reveals the dark realities of youth fascism in Russia—and the darker future awaiting the country if that hold cannot be broken.

Wartime Russia is drowning in fascist symbols. Zealous patriots attack journalists, opposition activists, and anyone suspected of betraying the motherland. Hordes of online trolls and sleek videos of angry young men urge citizens to join the cause. State television terrifies viewers with false tales of anti-Russian conspiracies and genocidal yearnings. Child soldiers proudly parade across Red Square. This is Russia in the 2020s: a land of performative rage and nationalist untruth, where pretence and broken promises are a way of life, and an apocalyptic mindset is seizing tomorrow’s Russians.

As compelling as it is chilling, Z Generation shows how Russia has ended up here, and where its young people may be headed: a fascist generation more violent and ideological than anything the country has seen before.


As the war in Ukraine shows no signs of coming to an end, Vladimir Putin is betting on a new generation of Russians to march in step with the regime. Listen to Ian Garner discuss his book Z Generation on The Times‘ Stories of Our Times podcast:

‘When they’re not lip-syncing to western pop tunes, thousands of young Russians are using social media to share pro-war memes and nationalist conspiracy theories. More than one million have joined the state Youth Army.’ – read an extract from Z Generation in The Times Magazine here.

‘They’re a paramilitary force of hundreds of thousands, consumed by online hatred for Ukraine — whose flag they call the Devil’s Swastika. As death tolls mount, experts are asking a chilling question…’ – read a feature adapted from Z Generation in the Daily Mail here.

‘An incandescent indictment of [Putin’s] regime… Garner writes with dash and panache, and pulls no punches as he rips through the evolution of the Putin regime.’ — The Sunday Times

‘A chilling investigation into the widespread support for the violence and ideology of fascism among Russia’s youth—and how Putin has used this to his advantage.’ — Financial Times

‘A brilliantly detailed portrait of the ideological and cultural atmosphere engineered by the Russian state, media and Church… a chilling and essential book.’ — Times Literary Supplement

‘A chilling and eye-opening primer on how the Kremlin is cultivating a new generation of foot soldiers who will ensure that its ugly ideology survives even if the current regime falls.’ — The Moscow Times

‘[A] chilling exposé.’ — Airmail

‘Astutely examines Russian youth’s growing embrace of fascism.’ — Prospect

‘Dissects the state’s efforts to reshape the minds of Russia’s young people.’ — New Lines Magazine

‘A readable and disturbing account of the militarisation of Russia’s youth.’ — The House Magazine

‘[Z Generation] is invaluable to understanding how the conflict may well progress.’ — Diplomatic Courier, ’15 Books to Look Forward to in 2023′

‘Ian Garner has produced a brilliant and chilling investigation. He meticulously details how extraordinary levels of hate permeate a large section of the under-30s, who came of age under Putin’s tutelage. No one can finish this book and still believe the invasion of Ukraine was just the fault of one bad guy in the Kremlin. As Garner so expertly shows, whatever happens in the war, we will be dealing with the consequences of Russian fascism for years to come.’ — Nick Cohen, Observer columnist and author

Watch Ian Garner talk about his book at Lighthouse Bookshop:

‘A deeply disturbing, anecdotal exploration of the rise of fascism in Russia.’ — Diplomatic Courier

‘Z Generation provides an excellent survey of the hateful content and deluded worldview of an increasingly mainstream fascism in Russia.’ — CHOICE

‘A powerful and bleak account of Russia’s youth.’ — The Russian Review

‘A forensic and grippingly-told examination of the descent of Russian youth into state-encouraged violent fascism. Garner makes the reader understand both the scale of the problem, and that it is one we will be facing for decades to come.’ — David Patrikarakos, author of War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century

‘An unflinching and essential portrayal of the Putler Jugend with all its paradoxes and sadism.’ — Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: Adventures in Modern Russia

‘If you thought Putin’s Russia was an ideology-free kleptocracy and most Russians are ashamed of or opposed to the invasion of Ukraine, read Ian Garner’s gripping historical-cultural analysis of the descent of a portion of Russia’s youth into fascist euphoria in support of their country’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.’ — Maria Popova, Associate Professor of Political Science and Jean Monnet Chair, McGill University

‘What do young Russians think about their country, Putin and the world? Why do many tech-savvy, successful and well-educated young Russians support their country’s invasion of Ukraine? Combining personal observations and academic research, this provocative book addresses questions crucial for understanding Russia’s past, present and future.’ — Eugene Finkel, Kenneth H. Keller Associate Professor of International Affairs, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and editor of Coloured Revolutions and Authoritarian Reactions

‘Ian Garner’s exceptional book deals with its subject matter—the growth of Russian fascism—in a way that is multifaceted and nuanced, but also clear-sighted about the threat it poses to Russia’s neighbours, the liberal international order and Russia itself.’ — Mart Kuldkepp, Associate Professor of Scandinavian History and Politics, University College London


Ian Garner's research focuses on Soviet and Russian war propaganda. The author of Stalingrad Lives: Stories of Combat and Survival, he studied at the Universities of Bristol and Toronto, and at the St. Petersburg State Conservatory.

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