On completion: The author of this book, Steven Lee Myers, was the New York Time's Moscow Bureau Chief until 2007. As a journalist stationed in MoscowOn completion: The author of this book, Steven Lee Myers, was the New York Time's Moscow Bureau Chief until 2007. As a journalist stationed in Moscow he has followed all that has happened in Russia in close detail. In this book he traces Putin's rise to power, his years in the presidency from 2000 as well as his collaboration with Dimitry Medvedev during 2008 through 2011. The book is detailed, well researched, extremely thorough and could not be more up-to-date! Even events of 2015 are included. The presentation is chronological.
The book provides a complete summary all that has been in the news concerning Russia over the last decades. What exactly? Examples follow: - Gorbachev's reign - Yeltsin's reign - the wars in Chechnya - missile defense discussions - the sinking of the submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea - the Moscow theater siege and hostage crisis (2002) - the suicide bombing of two domestic Russian aircraft in 2004 - Ivan Rybkin's kidnapping in 2004 when he accused the Putin administration of complicity in the 1999 bomb attacks in Moscow which led to the Second Chechen War - the Beslan school siege and hostage crisis (2004), - the expropriation/dismantling of the Yukos Oil Company in 2005 - the poisoning and death of Alexander Litvinenko (2006) - the Russian offensive in Georgia in 2008 and of course - the recent annexation of the Crimea (2014).
So you think the list is long? I have named but a few of the many, many incidents cited in this book, all of which have received widespread media coverage. So the book is a great summary of all that has been reported in the news, but the question is if it gives anything new. So many of the ‘crimes’ committed remain without conclusive proof. What exactly is fact and what hearsay? The result is you can believe whatever you want to believe. Russians have chosen to believe one version, and we with what we define as a freer press and more democratic way of life see the events differently. Read in one sweep, you are left thoroughly dismayed by what has occurred in Russia after the fall of the U.S.S.R. One is left frightened by where the world stands today.
Do I now understand Vladimir Putin? I certainly have not gotten into his head! That is impossible; no one is privy to his inner thoughts, and you certainly cannot rely on what he or what he allows the Russian media to say. His control over the media is tight; only recently has any dissent been able to be voiced via the net. Everything personal is covered up. Extremely little is known about his two daughters. Marilya was born 1985, is married to the Dutch Jorrit Faassen and has one child. Yekatarina was born in 1986. She remains unmarried. Vladimir married his wife Lyudmila in 1983. In 2013 the termination of their marriage was publicly announced. The decision was said to be mutual. It is the total lack of information that is most chilling. Do not expect much information about either Putin’s personal thoughts or family! It is his actions we can observe, and one can only make educated guesses at what has happened behind the scenes.
Why is it that Putin has such strong popular support? This was one of the questions I hoped would be answered by reading this book. I do understand the people’s support when he first came in to power - he spoke of eliminating corruption; he promised to get rid of the oligarchies. He reduced taxes. He increased wages. But now? 85% of the people support him. Corruption remains rampant and the standard of living for the large majority remains low. The masses scarcely care what happens to the stock market….. Putin’s almost complete control of the media, the total obliteration of all dissent, the lack of conclusive evidence proving his complicity may explain much, but I also believe one has to understand how Putin plays to the people’s strong sense of patriotism, their inherent love of their country. This comes to the point where it isolates them from rest of the world. While the book shows all this, the question itself is never directly answered head on.
The audiobook is well narrated by Rene Ruiz. Clearly and not too fast, but given the book’s detailed content and many, many foreign names it is very hard to follow in the audio format. I recommend reading the paper book instead.
Due to its extensive political, business and economic detail, the book cannot be seen as a light read, even in the paper format! Only occasionally does ironic humor lighten the load. Yes, I am glad I read the book, but it was a very hard read.
I have listened to about 25%:
I have to be upfront about this - the book puts me to sleep sometimes. So many people I don't recognize. Lines that leave me confused. An overload of facts for my puney brain. Yeah, I guess I am learning about what Putin has done to get where he is today....but do I know the man now? And how much will I remember? I don't think a non-fiction book has to be this dry.
I will continue........
Maybe if I complain it will improve????????! ...more
I am wondering if there isn't enough depth since the book records the words of so very many individuals. I am glad the book was compiled, but maybe noI am wondering if there isn't enough depth since the book records the words of so very many individuals. I am glad the book was compiled, but maybe not exactly what I am looking for?...more