In a September 13, 2007, interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, which was rebroadcast in December ahead of the film’s DVD release and three Golden Globe nominations, director David Cronenberg cited Vladimir Volkov’s 2002 Cornell UP book, Violent Entrepreneurs: The Use of Force in the Making of Russian Capitalism, as one of the inspirations for his critically acclaimed 2007 thriller, Eastern Promises, which stars Viggo Mortensen as a London-based Russian mobster. In his interview with host Terry Gross, Cronenberg identified the book as important in shaping his view of the Russian underworld depicted in the film as the “rawest, most virulent form of capitalism” and his characters as “ardent capitalists.”
Like the film, the book Violent Entrepreneurs has been critically acclaimed and has become a bestseller on Cornell’s political science list, widely used in courses on post-Soviet Russia and criminology. According to the New York Review of Books, “Volkov supplies the missing link between almost everything else you may read about business in post-Communist Russia and almost everything else you can read about organized crime there. He treats the two activities, business and crime, with equal respect as fields of sociological inquiry, and so arrives at the first satisfying account of how they affect each other.” Fans of the film wanting to know more about the fascinating world of Russian organized crime should put Violent Entrepreneurs at the top of their reading list.