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Putin's Labyrinth: Spies, Murder, and the Dark Heart of the New Russia

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  269 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
The new Russia is marching in an alarming direction. Emboldened by escalating oil wealth and newfound prominence as a world power, Russia, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, has veered back toward the authoritarian roots planted in Imperial/Czarist times and firmly established during the Soviet era. Though Russia has a new president, Dmitri Medvedev, Putin remains in ...more
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Published August 19th 2008 by Random House (first published January 1st 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Hanan Kat
It's an OK book. The premise of it is that Russia is still very much an autocratic state, and the Russian population is so used to the "culture of death and violence" since they have a long history with it (The Romanovs etc...), that they grew "cold and unemotional" towards it.

What bugged me about the book is the fact that the author wants to blame all the crimes he described on Putin, yet offers no tangible proof of it. It's all speculative talk that can be found on a basic Wikipedia page about
Apr 19, 2014 Atharva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics-culture
On page 29 of 'Putin's Labyrinth', Levine writes: "The more confident Putin became about Russia's ascendancy, the more willing he seemed to rattle Europe occasionally and poke America in the eye with some frequency." Rings very true at a point where Putin has put Ukraine in a state of civil war. Where Putin has swung the time back to the days of Soviet Union, and where journalists are shot, sometimes in cold blood, because they wrote the truth. Like Anna Politkovskaya, a daring crusader of justi ...more
Jerry Smith
OK book. Easy to read and moves at quite a fast pace and is short at around 165 pages. Holds the promise of a look at Vladimir Putin's presidency and certainly does cover that but overall it seems to imply that he presides over a Russia unconcerned with crime on the streets, especially murder and one that seeks to restore a strong Russia and sanction any means to achieve that.

In essence a stitching together of several stories that are all interesting in their own right but ultimately don't seem
For all the complaints I have about our government, this book made me glad I don't live Russia. One of the reasons why -

"In July, Vladimir Putin signed a granted the Kermlin's intelligence agencies the right-if Putin gave his approval-to assassinate Russia's enemies outside the nation's borders, including 'those slandering the individual occupying the post of president of the Russian Federation.' In other words, making a defamatory statement of Putin could be punishable by death." [pg
Mehmet Akif  Koc
Sep 22, 2014 Mehmet Akif Koc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting, riveting, but also speculative study on recent history of Russia, provides a different perspective...
Feb 20, 2017 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read - makes one think
Jeremiah Salyer
Jan 05, 2017 Jeremiah Salyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing book. For a glimpse of Russia's war on free speech and political dissidents, read this book. Putin is bad news for the West. Unfortunately one of Bush's greatest mistakes may have been partnering with him in the war on terror.
Sep 01, 2008 Alan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Quote-leftThis is a timely book, coming so soon after the Russian intervention is Georgia, and covers an interesting and important subject. The author states his thesis at the outset: that because of its history, Russia is a country and Russians a people more tolerant of brutal behavior by the government than others and that the current Putin regime is ruthless in crushing dissent and enforcing its one-party rule of the country.
Unfortunately what follows is remarkably thin. We go over several we
Aug 27, 2008 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone in the US and NATO
It is no coincidence that Putin has chosen this time during the Olympics and the US political parties' national conventions to attack and take possession of parts of Georgia that Russia and Georgia have been fighting over for hundreds of years.Vladimir Putin is Russia's new autocrat, Russia's second Josef Stalin, and America is not paying attention. As usual America and its government and citizens are too self-absorbed to think about anything that doesn't immediately appear to influence their da ...more
Sep 11, 2016 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
excellent first person account of Putin's Russia by an American reporter who spent 14 years there.
Aug 20, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian, nonfiction
An interesting look at aspects of modern Russia, mostly through a series of loosely linked articles on topics such as the Nord-Ost theater incident, the murder of Politkovskaya and the poisoning of Litvinenko. The articles are interesting -- well written and well researched -- but are generally one-sided (though I guess it's hardly the author's fault Kremlin and FSB insiders won't talk to him) and provide not much more than anecdotal evidence of LeVine's central idea, which is that modern Russia ...more
Jul 29, 2009 Krystyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Levine may be a bit over the top with his assessments, but on the whole this is a very compelling (and terrifying) account of how Putin came to power and has maintained power -- told through a series of high profile assassinations and murders that you've heard about but never thought much of until now. Levine makes the case that some of this backsliding from the days of 'perestroika' is inherent to the Russian ingrained personality that distrusts that one's own government will really protect you ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a dark description of how difficult it is to speak out against your government if you are a Russian. Note, there is no "Daily Show" in Russia. This book will tell you why. Seriously though, this book gets into lots of the fascinating details of the Alexander Litvinenko poisoning that took place in London a few years ago. The biggest thing to take away from this read, is that speaking out and being critical of the actions of the Russian government and Army put your life in grave dang ...more
Dec 01, 2008 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, russia
Overall, this book was a good overview of several events in Russia's recent past that show a troubling trend that is not a surprise to many people. I felt that the book was a little thin, that the author was trying to get it out as quickly as possible and didn't follow some of the threads through to their conclusions; in a few placed he introduced an idea or theory and then immediately dropped it. I also felt that in some places he was using his impression of a person's character as evidence. It ...more
James Macduff
A captivating insight to Putin's Russia. A sad account which makes one feel the Russian people have never had a good ruler. Putin does not tolerate criticism, as we recently witnessed in the Pussy Riot convictions and the recent sentencing of the man who criticized the Sochi Olympics. The liberal politics of the author occasionally surface and then detract from the story. On the whole, a good book which helps me better understand the current situation in the Ukraine. Easy to read and very enligh ...more
Dominika Klekner
Might be exciting for a person not familiar with the topics covered. Definitely not for someone who knows all stories about the Chechen War ever published, not for someone fed up with the media's perception of Russia being a 'reporters' murderer' and 'freedom hater'.
The bright side is, it contains an interesting story of how Putin met Medvedev and reports on certain moments that became crucial in the creation of the Russian Federation as we know it today. And since it has only 150 pages, it is
Christopher Brennan
Lots of conjecture from folks who hate Putin, but authored with a journalist's eye. The credibility is in the author's experience in the region. Perhaps the most salient points are the observations about Russia's stance on the encroachment of NATO and it's efforts to regain it's preeminence as a global power center. With the on-going Ukrainian crisis revisiting this is timely.

I reread this after reading it originally in 2008 on publication.
Paulo Jan
May 17, 2014 Paulo Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even sounding or seeming so americanized , this book fulfills a necessary oposition counterpart , so silent in Russia that needs to be lead from abroad. As I could understand , these facts and acusations are commonly considered just a kind of conspiration theory , but deserve to be taken seriously. I recomend this book to open minds.
Mar 14, 2009 Brent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I really liked this book. The biggest story in this book is about Alexander Litvenenko, the defected former KGB agent that was poisoned by the radioactive isotope Polonium-210. He was allegedly poisoned by other KGB agents. The book followed several other political assassinations and terror attacks that happened in the former Soviet Union during the '90s till now.
Nov 17, 2008 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting analysis of Putin's Russia and the deaths of journalists and critics under Putin's reign. I'm concerned that it may overdramatize the situation or give credence to conspiracy theories, but it may be an accurate portrayal. It's written by a BusinessWeek reporter, and he's careful to present both sides of each story and it's easy to get through.
Apr 21, 2013 Morleymor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A disturbing read. State sanctioned murder both within Russia and outside its borders probably needs to be more widely publicised? Russia's oil and gas reserves probably make this politically inexpedient?
Stephen Thomas
"Putin's Labyrinth" by Steven Levine is a good quick read although I would add the author does not prove all his theories regarding Vladimir Putin, so the book does come off one-sided. Still the book is quick, short and you will know more about current Russia and Putin from reading it.
Dana Woodaman
A good and very disturbing look at the lawlessness that pervades Putin's Russia. I have read some other books on some of the famous killings done in this book, but this read makes it all the more clear that today's Russia is a vicious, dangerous place to live if you question the powers that be.
Elliot Richards
Sep 20, 2013 Elliot Richards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written, which made for compulsive reading; great for anyone interested in the Putin era. Has a great list of sources too to scour for more background on the KGB/FSB and power behind Russia.
Heidi Lin
Mar 15, 2014 Heidi Lin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read about Putin, his rise to power, his relationship with the FSB (ex KGB) and the not so mysterious assassinations of his political enemies
Rachel Hall
A quick read on an interesting topic. However it is very thin. It could have used more research. This would have been an condensed into a magzine article.
Oct 15, 2013 Jin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book
Less about Putin & his presidency but more about assassinations & violence that could be attribute to Russian government. I was slightly disappointed as I wanted to learn more about Putin himself.
Aug 22, 2008 Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book for anyone who wants to know more about whats going on behind the scenes during Russia's rebirth on to the world statge
Nov 16, 2011 Kristy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zoe has to read this for school, yikes, thought I'd read it, too. Scary stuff about how the Russian government are a bunch of lawless, violent, mobsters.
Kylie Young
Good book. I especially loved the story of Anna. I would have loved to have read more about Putin's role in the KGB but nonetheless interesting read
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Putin's Labyrinth 1 3 Jan 23, 2012 01:46PM  
  • Putin's Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy
  • The Russians
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  • Who Will Write Our History?: Rediscovering a Hidden Archive from the Warsaw Ghetto
  • Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing
  • When They Come for Us, We'll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry
  • First Person
  • Prompt and Utter Destruction: Truman and the Use of Atomic Bombs Against Japan, Revised Edition
  • The World That Never Was: A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists, and Secret Agents
  • The Ultra Secret
  • The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin
  • With Their Backs to the World: Portraits from Serbia
  • Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin's Russia and the End of Revolution
  • Conspirator: Lenin in Exile
  • The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia
  • The King Whisperers Power Behind the Throne, from Rasputin to Rove
  • In Reckless Hands: Skinner v. Oklahoma and the Near-Triumph of American Eugenics
  • The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia

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