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The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,804 ratings  ·  397 reviews
“A riveting, immensely detailed biography of Putin that explains in full-bodied, almost Shakespearian fashion why he acts the way he does.” –Robert D. Kaplan
The New Tsar is the book to read if you want to understand how Vladimir Putin sees the world and why he has become one of the gravest threats to American security.

The epic tale of the rise to power of Russia's current
Hardcover, 592 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Knopf (first published January 14th 2014)
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William Braddell I haven't read the book but from the description it sounds like it was written with the goal of allowing the reader to understand how Putin may behave…moreI haven't read the book but from the description it sounds like it was written with the goal of allowing the reader to understand how Putin may behave in the future.(less)

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Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
My latest selection in the forty days of biography reading takes me into the life of a current world leader, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation. Seen as as staunch anti-American and anti-West, Putin's rise and hold of power in Russia came about through interesting means, as recounted by Steven Lee Myers. Having lived and worked through the political metamorphosis of the USSR, Putin's story is one that the reader will likely find captivating as well as frustrating, as Lee pulls no ...more
During the election pre-season in America, I was as surprised and intrigued at the support for Donald Trump as the rest of the thinking universe (not the pundits, of course). As I laughed at his unscripted policy-free speeches and intentionally note-worthy off-the-cuff remarks, I remember thinking I would love to see the effect of his ‘shock and awe’ campaign on someone like Putin. I thought Trump would be too unpredictable and outspoken for Putin. I am ready to take that back. In a weird kind o ...more
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 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
Mikey B.
This is an excellent biography of Vladimir Putin. Perhaps the best way to describe him would be “relentless control”. Particularly to those who oppose him in any way. He turned Russia away from its purported trajectory of “chaotic democracy” in the 1990’s to become what it is today - a full-fledged dictatorship in the Russian mold. As the author suggests Putin has become more Tsar-like than communist. The new FSB is made up of former KGB agents, which was where Putin’s career started – and then ...more
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was an almost overwhelmingly detailed account of Vladimir Putin's life and rise to power. Although there were times reading this that I felt I was drowning in a profusion of minutiae, I actually found that it was a good way to learn. The details made the narrative that much more memorable for me. I absolutely feel that I gained an understanding of Putin as a leader, but perhaps less so as a man.

Which brings me to my only real complaint about this book: The author, Steven Lee Myers, wa
Steven Z.
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you are seeking an explanation for Russian President Vladimir Putin policies, domestically and externally, you should consult Steven Lee Myers recent book THE NEW TSAR: THE RISE AND REIGN OF VLADIMIR PUTIN. According to Myers it was the Ukrainian Presidential election of 2004, coming on the heels of the Beslan school massacre of September 3, 2004 that pushed Putin to recalibrate his plans. When Chechen terrorists seized close to 1000 people on the first day of the school year, resulting in th ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent historical review of Russian political scene. Biography - not so much. 


1. Very well written and chronologicaly organized narrative. However, it does require reader 's time and attention as there are lots of facts.

2. Author gave really good overview of political events in Russia (1950's-2015), this will help people with little knowledge about it to understand the context. 

3. Lots of details. I was not aware of some of them, especially how extensive Islamic terrorist att
Sep 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been fumbling with this review for several weeks and still can't seem to come up with anything resembling coherency so I apologize in advance.

How does a man of modest beginnings and seemingly mundane abilities end up as one of the most powerful men on the planet? This books attempts to answer that question and for the most part does a very good job. Of course with anyone whose background begins with the KGB, can you ever be sure of having the whole story? With Myers working for the New York
Tudor Ciocarlie
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For almost 50 years the life of Vladimir Putin had nothing uncommon about it. He was a faithful student of the soviet educational system, a faithful member of KGB and of Soviet Russia, then a faithful servant of Anatoly Sobchak, the first democratically elected mayor of Saint Petersburg, and then, a faithful deputy and servant of Boris Yeltsin. Then, to the surprise of everyone, including Putin’s, he was nominated by Yeltsin as his successor. Unfortunately, Putin is not a democrat (like Yeltsin ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book and felt it gave me a good review of current history and a good understanding of Putin. Not sure if Myers intended it or not but I was left with the feeling that Putin would not hesitate in triggering a war with the West. Myers has indicated Putin has reached a reckless state and has nothing to lose. Myers did an excellent job revealing the change in Putin after he obtained power.

Steven Lee Myers was a reporter for the New York Times stationed in Russia for many years during
Hans Klis
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Despite the dense information presented in this book, Myers turns his biography of Putin and Putins Russia into an exciting tale of corruption, intrige and ultimately the death of the Russian dream after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I read The New Tsar back to back within a week, utterly mesmerized by the research and readability of this hefty tome. Anyone interested in Russian (geo)political maneuvering this past years should read this book.
Conor Ahern
Apr 15, 2017 rated it liked it
So this book was informative, but it felt like it was told at a remove. I suppose this is to be expected of a secretive and powerful man, but it read like an elaborate retelling of tons of journalism and public information. It's odd that we know so much less about our current leaders in this age of supposed transparency than we knew of so many of our more prolix forebears.

I guess I was dissatisfied that this book, in spite of its bulk, failed to divulge much about Putin's mindset or disposition.
Feb 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Check out my video on the Alexei Navalny issue and why Russia has a history of using poison as a weapon of choice on my channel BEYOND BORDERS (

The New Tsar is a deep dive into the rise of Russian president Vladimir Putin. It shows Putin's rise from the KGB to his grand entrance into Russian politics. Whether you love or hate Putin, you have to marvel at the man's political genius. The way Putin used and abused his way to power is reminiscent of som
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great book to understand how Putin got to power in the 90s and 2000s and his (possible) motivations behind recent actions like the annexation of Crimea. It gave me great insights on how Russia is currently functioning and how Putin is being kept in power.
The thing that keeps me from giving this book 5-stars it that it seems a bit of a one-sided view. It is difficult to get an honest understanding when this book is being written from the American side with the assistance of people like Boris N
Ailith Twinning
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
It's a very interesting read, right up until the last hour or so when it becomes blatant propaganda. I'm not familiar with post WWII Russia really, so I have no idea how true it is, but what I do know about that gets passing mention because Putin walked thru the room is presented in an overtly pro-American way that breaks from reality in tone thru careful choice of how to present something defensible as fact. In other words, this book contains disinformation even in what very little falls under ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
What kind of person is Putin? What’s his history? What’s happened in Russia since he has been in power? I really didn’t know, other than the snippets I read the news now and then about poison or Olympic doping or Crimea or election interference. So I decided I needed to read a book to fill in the gaps.

This book was the perfect choice. Though the book does not attempt to be completely unbiased (he calls Putin the “New Tsar” in the title), Myer does a good job staying balanced and pointing out w
Matt Christopher
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018-target-list
Interesting story, but language is pretty blatantly biased. Too much detail, so lost the key pieces of the narrative.
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Steven Lee Myers, a New York Times Russian affairs correspondent, brings us The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin (2016) is a natural followup to a reading of Bill Browder’s Red Notice, a book about one businessman’s experiences in Putin’s corrupt and absolutely powerful “democratic” government. Will this biography present Putin as a leader consistent with Browder’s experience—brutal, venal, and cold-hearted—or will Putin be at the minimum on the pussycat scale? The title is a helpf ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it
A very boring summary of the major well documented events in the life of Putin. Nothing new here, no juicy details, speculations or analysis. I don't now how this mediocre book got such good reviews. There are hardly ever any details on Russia, its history and people which might explain Putin phenomenal popularity among ordinary people. In fact, the book rarely ventures outside Moscow, so the reader never understand the enormous challenge of governing vast and diverse country. The author managed ...more
Dec 13, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was really hard to read. It was more like a college textbook than anything else. So much information and very densely packed. Definitely more advanced than I was expecting.
Bart Van Den Bossche
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Genuinely impressive.

Not the man Putin, but this book as a whole.
Written from a neutral point of view, taking you through the Life of the new tsar.
It outlines how the man went from a little nobody in the ranks of the KGB to one of the most dominant personalities in the current global political landscape.
The book not only tackles the easy subjects (corruption, lack of justice, ...) but also puts a fair level of attention to the prosperity Putin brought to Russia in his early days as a preside
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russia, politics
This is an engaging story about the dull and grey functionary who emerged from obscurity to become the indisputable one-man symbol of Russia in the 21st century.

Putin’s quick elevation to power as the heir of Yeltsin was rather unexpected and surprised most in politics. During the chaotic 1990s the Russian society was deeply traumatized by the sudden disintegration of the Soviet Union and badly suffered from the ensuing economic bust. Putin was tasked with reinstating the seeming functionality
Saku Mantere
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well written and researched, the book is both enlightening and entertaining. The book could be mined for multiple case studies on themes such as social order, corruption and leadership. What strikes me in particular is that, in a society plagued by corruption, corruption keeps everyne in their place; even the leaders can't risk stepping down. Myers, a New York Times Moscow correspondent knows his subject well. At times I felt that he sacrifices journalistic rigor to spinning a good yarn: he attr ...more
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, 2017-read
As history tends to repeat itself, this work of non-fiction is a great example of how the internal political workings of a great nation such as The United States, Russia or any other influential country should be supervised or at least be transparent enough to be criticized whenever certain notions or tendencies seem to have not the benefit of its people in mind, but the personal gain of its ruler and his immediate surrounding.

How this can be established I don’t know, but what is happening in Ru
Shailendra Bhogaraju
Dec 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
The author clearly narrates the rise of Putin from a humble background to the most powerful man on the planet. His rein is washed by the blood of his harshest critics. He ran the Kremlin like a corrupt company which was infested by his cronies from the KGB with complete control over the media & oil & natural gas companies. The Crimean Crisis of 2014 proved to be his nemesis in the world order which led to his direct comparison to Hitler. His feeling of antipathy towards the west especially the U ...more
Vikas Datta
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite informative but faintly damning...
Dec 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Brings nothing new to the tabel.
Kara of BookishBytes
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Detailed, fascinating and disturbing. The story of Vladimir Putin is the history of Russian politics for the last 20 years, so the reader learns a lot of recent Russian history (espionage, war, economic policy, etc.) in this book.

Putin began his career as an unremarkable KGB agent, spying mostly on other Russians. Then he became involved in local politics in St. Petersburg as an associate of the mayor of St. Petersburg, and as the mayor rose in prominence in national politics, so did Putin. Eve
Peter Corrigan
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was new territory for me, despite having had a long-time near obsession with Russia and it's tortured history. This is more like 'near-history', the newspaper (or now internet) headlines of the past 20+ years synthesized into a coherent and fascinating account of the rise of Putin amidst a period of incredible change and turmoil. To anyone who wants to move beyond the shallow headlines of Russia conspiracies and related nonsense endlessly pushed by the western media, this book would be a re ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good biography that covers, in fair detail right up to the immediate months after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. It is especially good at establishing Putin's character and motivations early in life and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This then better explains his actions as President from 2000-2008, when he first began creating for himself a circle of trusted associates. His background as a KGB agent, and work during the Cold War, also makes clear his attitudes toward foreign gover ...more
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Reading Along Wit...: Steven Lee Myers: “The New Tsar” 1 17 Oct 01, 2015 07:22AM  

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Steven Lee Myers is a journalist who worked as correspondent for the New York Times for twenty-six years, seven of which in Russia during the period of consolidation of Putin's power. ...more

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“Putin had told Yeltsin that he did not like election campaigns, and now he dismissed campaign promises as unachievable lies told by politicians and denigrated television advertisements as unseemly manipulation of gullible consumers.” 4 likes
“Ukraine, in contrast, had deep ethnic, cultural, and economic ties to Russia—and to Putin. It was the historical root of Russia itself: Kievan Rus, the medieval fief whose leader, Vladimir the Great, adopted Christianity in 988, and the frontier of the tsarist empires that followed—its name translated literally as the Ukraine, or “the border.” Its borders had shifted over time: Parts of its western territory had belonged to Poland or the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Stalin seized some of it with his secret pact with Hitler in 1939 and the rest after the end of the Great Patriotic War. Ukraine’s modern shape took form, but it seemed ephemeral, subject to the larger forces of geopolitics, as most borderlands have been throughout history. In 1954, Nikita Khrushchev decreed that Crimea, conquered by Catherine the Great in the eighteenth century and heroically defended against the Nazis, would be governed by the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from Kiev, not from Moscow. No” 3 likes
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