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On the cusp of Donald Trump’s inauguration, Samantha Bee invited Masha Gessen on her show to ask how the U.S. would know when it’d hit rock bottom. “So there’s a Russian joke,” Gessen replied. “We thought we had hit rock bottom, and then someone knocked from below.” Unfortunately, she knows what she’s talking about. In 2013, Gessen and her girlfriend fled Russia with their kids because the government was considering removing children from same-sex families. Her family settled in the U.S., where Gessen continues to write about autocracy, demagogues, Putin, and, since last year, Trump. Gessen is coming to D.C. to talk about her new book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, with POLITICO’s Susan B. Glasser. The book traces Russia’s journey from the promise of democracy in the 1990s to today’s violent autocracy. Gessen’s clear-eyed, blunt perspective on totalitarianism is jarring, but it’s also necessary for anyone who wants to understand how a government betrays its people. Read more>>> Masha Gessen reads at 7 p.m. at Sidwell Friends School, 3825 Wisconsin Ave. NW. $5–$40. (202) 364-1919. politics-prose.com. (Becky Little)


National Symphony Orchestra presents Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony at the Kennedy Center. 7 p.m. at 2700 F St. NW. $15-$89.

U Street Music Hall brings ambient pop group Cigarettes After Sex to the stage. 7 p.m. at 1115 U St. NW. $20. 

South Carolina rock band NEEDTOBREATHE performs at 9:30 Club. 7 p.m. at 815 V St. NW. $46. 

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