Saturday, March 8, 2014

Understanding Putin

The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the struggle for Russia (M) by Angus Roxburgh 2013"Former BBC Moscow correspondent Roxburgh (Pravda: Inside the Soviet Press Machine) begins his analysis of Putin and Russia with a review of the country under former President Yeltsin, which had been "truly battered by the abrupt transition from communism," before providing a brief biography of Putin's early life, his time as a KGB agent (a childhood aspiration) and rise in politics, aided by his patrons, the Family-which comprised Yeltsin's closest advisers. The author describes the past two decades of Russian history with an interesting, involved voice, discussing the Chechen war, attacks on journalists and politicians, and various aspects of Russian politics. Based on numerous interviews, Roxburgh delves into the relationships that Russia has built with other countries since the fall of the Soviet Union, including France, Britain, Italy, Germany, and, extensively, the United States. With canny understanding, Roxburgh illuminates diplomatic protocol, international politics, and the personalities involved, from Putin to Presidents Bush and Obama" - Publisher Weekly

The Man Without a Face: the unlikely rise of Vladimir Putin
(M) by Masha Gessen 2012"This is the chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world. Handpicked by the "family" surrounding an ailing and increasingly unpopular Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin seemed like a perfect choice for the oligarchy to shape according to its own designs. Suddenly the boy who had stood in the shadows was a public figure, and his popularity soared. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see the progressive leader of their dreams, even as he seized control of media, sent political rivals and critics into exile or to the grave, and smashed the country's fragile electoral system, concentrating power in the hands of his cronies. As a journalist living in Moscow, Masha Gessen experienced this history firsthand, and she has drawn on sources no other writer has tapped.--From publisher description." - publisher

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