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The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

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“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 president—the only complete biography in English – that fully captures his emergence from shrouded obscurity and deprivation to become one of the most consequential and complicated leaders in modern history, by the former New York Times Moscow bureau chief.

In a gripping narrative of Putin’s rise to power as Russia’s president, Steven Lee Myers recounts Putin’s origins—from his childhood of abject poverty in Leningrad, to his ascension through the ranks of the KGB, and his eventual consolidation of rule. Along the way, world events familiar to readers, such as September 11th and Russia’s war in Georgia in 2008, as well as the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, are presented from never-before-seen perspectives. 

This book is a grand, staggering achievement and a breathtaking look at one man’s rule. On one hand, Putin’s many reforms—from tax cuts to an expansion of property rights—have helped reshape the potential of millions of Russians whose only experience of democracy had been crime, poverty, and instability after the fall of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, Putin has ushered in a new authoritarianism, unyielding in his brutal repression of revolts and squashing of dissent. Still, he retains widespread support from the Russian public.

The New Tsar is a narrative tour de force, deeply researched, and utterly necessary for anyone fascinated by the formidable and ambitious Vladimir Putin, but also for those interested in the world and what a newly assertive Russia might mean for the future. 

592 pages, Hardcover

First published January 14, 2014

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About the author

Steven Lee Myers

8 books67 followers
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.

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Profile Image for Matt.
3,723 reviews12.8k followers
March 12, 2017
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 punches while offering a well-rounded piece, full of first-hand accounts and behind the scenes vignettes. How long Putin will hold the reins of power is anyone's guess, though the recent inauguration of Donald Trump may have finally created a leader with whom Putin can co-exist happily. I mean, he did pave the way to rig the US election, didn't he?

Born to meagre parents during the waning days of Stalin's reign of terror, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin arrived after his siblings all perished. Raised to respect his father and love his mother, Putin soon found himself drawn to all things athletic, with a special fondness for judo. Putin's love of this form of martial arts would prove symbolic in the decades to come, as its focus is to use the momentum from one's opponent to win, rather than direct attack. Putin's attention in school found him able to enter post-secondary with little hesitation, where his studies and physical acumen soon drew the attention of the KGB. Well-suited for the group, Putin was secretive and able to hold himself in check, entering training school on the outskirts of Moscow, where he would not reveal his identity while learning the art of deception and espionage. He was soon sent to East Germany with his wife and young family, where he took up a post in Dresden, learning the language and the culture in the mid-80s. Putin witnessed the declawing of the Soviet Bear and the disintegration of Communism in Germany first hand while in Dresden, as the dominoes began to fall and the region began falling into turmoil. Called back to Moscow, Putin brought his family back and waited to see what would come of his homeland and communism, the only ideology known to generations of Russians. When all hope seemed lost, Putin joined the FSB, the organization that rose from the KGB ashes, and sought to accept things as best he could. Catching the eye of Boris Yeltsin, the new Russian president and man who sought to steer the country out of the doldrums. Putin's success grew exponentially when he abandoned the Russia of his childhood.

Lee attributes Putin's first taste at political power to his choice to serve as deputy mayor of Petersburg, one of the largest cities in the country. Putin was able to shape policies and helped to create stability under a quasi-democratic system, something that many citizens could not yet properly understand. However, as with any new system, corruption was the only language spoken and Putin found himself in the middle of scandals as his boss sought to hold onto power however possible. Seeking to make more of a name for himself and still being touted as a man with potential, Putin headed to Moscow and worked alongside Yeltsin, eventually taking a role as head of the FSB, which led to a position on the National Security Council. Yeltsin was loved in the West, but had an iron fist as he ran the newly minted democratic Russia, tossing aside opposition and weak prime ministers who would not do his bidding. When Putin was given the chance at being PM in 1999, many saw his selection as the kiss of death. Putin accepted and tried to work alongside Yeltsin, as changes in the country continued to take effect. When Yeltsin's health took a turn for the worse, fate would offer Putin the chance to rise up and assume the role of President of Russia, which began a taste of real power and something that he would never willingly cede, even when constitutionally guided.

Putin's ascension to the Russian presidency brought him more power than he had ever had and, for a time, offered Russia a vibrant leader with fresh ideas. Seen as new blood for Russia, Putin was hailed by the world as a leader with whom others could work and under which democracy had a real chance. However, as Lee insinuates throughout the book, it was this elevation that turned Putin from the quiet man into the autocratic leader known today. Power surely corrupts and Putin did not take long to grip the reins of power tightly. Opposition, while praised in democracy, was all but silence or bullied into submission, be it within the Russian borders or on the world stage. Putin turned the country away from its democratic toddling and towards a return to the centralized power structure that kept Stalin as leader for so long. Critics were shunned, jailed or worse, and Putin sought to quell the criticism of world leaders by tossing out his own epithets. Infamous stories of poisonings and repressive acts to pull neighbouring countries in line were coloured only by Putin's war with Chechen rebels, whose fight paralleled the radical muslim fighting that Bush 43 faced in his two illegal wars in Asia. Putin was prepared to paint himself as the protector of Russia, though drew up his own rules and form of democracy to fit his own needs. Perhaps a saving grace, Putin sought not to rewrite the constitution to fit his megalomania, but agreed to abide by the two-term limits as president, with his own little twist. In a game of bait and switch, Lee elucidates how Putin was able to bring Dmitri Medvedev up the ranks to run as president, then have himself chosen as Russian Prime Minister. While PM, Putin ran the show and left Medvedev to act as a figurehead. Lee offers numerous examples of Putin's wrangling and eventual puppeteering as Medvedev willingly allowed his apparently underling run the show, only to orchestrate this own return to the presidency thereafter. Brilliantly executed, though baffling as he snubbed all this democratic, Putin mastered the art of appearing to follow the rules only to twist them to his favour. A return to power then allowed Putin to shove constitutional changes to the length of the presidential term through the Duma, allowing him six year terms and a tighter grip on all this Russian. This is where he stands now, with new elections expected in 2018, so far a foregone conclusion. New examples of suppression of critics emerge during this presidential resurrection, including Pussy Riot, a rock band whose scandalous songs saw them put on trial as the world watched. Putin proved drunk on power and would not accept guidance from anyone, only further isolating himself from his fellow leaders and increasingly from the public. However, as the apt reader and political scientist will realise, even with increasing dislike for the president, without a viable alternative, Putin's reign as the new dictatorial tsar will not end, even if he must play another round of bait and switch to lead well into his eighth decade.

I am no expert in international politics, but it seems apparent, through all I know and from what Lee has presented so well in this book, that Putin sought to fill the vacuum left by communism with his own form of autocratic rule. Swinging the pendulum away from the ideological left to a deeply entrenched right-of-centre approach, Putin has been able to fill the minds of his citizens with the fear that was common during the Stalin era, where opposition disappeared as soon as it arose. Ice picks to the head have been replaced with polonium pellets in food and vicious attacks by Russian forces. Lee shows the disintegration of support by those world leaders who would have, at one time, been staunch allies (Bush 43, Chirac) and eventually became guarded or spoke out openly against the way Putin acted on the world scene. While Lee's book appeared on newsstands before the 2016 US General Election, it is interesting that Russia (read: Putin) might have played a role in bringing The Great Xenophobe to power, which is currently stirring up Capitol Hill with allegations. Whatever comes of it, Putin has shown that he will not allow anyone to stand in his way when he wants something. He is apt to take it and worry about the consequences later. Troubling? Maybe a little for a country that is still reeling from decades of have its citizens unable to shape the political landscape.

Lee's writing is so fluid and easy to comprehend that I am left to praise him for this piece. The biography is so full of information, though told in such a way that the reader is not overwhelmed. These attributes keep the reader wanting to learn more and delve deeper into the life of this world leader. The attention to detail that Lee provides is indicative of extensive research and thoughtful preparation, which keeps the reader informed and entertained at the same time. Vignettes flow together with ease and Putin's persona grows with each building chapter. While it is hard not to inject bias into the writing, Lee does try to round out the narrative as best he can, though it is hard not to see the power intoxication that Putin develops. Any reader curious about this more elusive world leader need look no further than this piece, which offers much insight into where Russia is headed, with no real opposition that can quell the Putin superstructure. While criticism continues to mount within the country, until a formidable political opposition can present itself, Putin and his cronies will rule with an iron fist, needing no curtain to isolate themselves from the world.

Kudos, Mr. Myers for this brilliant piece. I can only hope that many will take the time to read this and see the monster behind the idyllic mask who has turned Russia on its head yet again.

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Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,412 followers
May 27, 2016
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 of way, both men, neither political operatives at the start of their careers, are a similar kind of not-liberal, not-conservative, whatever-works nationalist kind of politician. And both have created a cult of personality to facilitate a kind of one-man rule.

Myers allowed me to catch this glimpse of Putin at his start in government as an ordinary man unused to and previously uninterested in political power. When he began in the Sobchak Leningrad government, he may or may not have been involved in skimming from contracts he arranged with the newly burgeoning private sector after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He certainly was in a position to do so, and many of the people he awarded contracts did so: he formed firm friendships and nurtured loyal apparatchiks in Leningrad that reappear throughout his political career. But it is also true that Russia in the early 1990’s was a wild place with many crime lords jockeying for power. Putin’s family was targeted at least once. Putin did not at that time appear to have the trappings of new wealth, though we learned only recently of monies in his name from the Panama Papers. It is possible that his wealth accumulated from later dealings.

It has always been difficult to understand why Putin was reputed to enjoy such wide public support in Russia, but I realize now that our media reporting emphasized bad judgment and outcomes while Russian media outlets emphasized good intent and nationalism. Myers gives a far more nuanced picture of Putin growing into his role as president—prime minister—president again in this book. If Putin didn’t begin as a friend to oligarchs, he gradually relaxed into the role. He began as a man with he stated goal of “making Russia great again.” He could see that some people were gaming the system by purchasing national reserves of commodities improperly priced and selling them at more realistically priced international values. This was not illegal at the time, just morally suspect. Rather than trying to fix the system of laws that allowed this rape of mineral and energy resources to continue, Putin selectively applied legal and taxation rules on the books to hamper, entangle, or otherwise inhibit the activities of people who did not work closely with him.

Myers charts the hardening of Putin’s character, from his shock and dismay upon learning that Yeltsin had chosen him as a political successor to his chagrin upon learning that his chosen successor, Medvedev, had both an opinion and a weakness that didn’t partner Putin well. And what was very clear in Myers’ telling was the perception of U.S. foreign policy decisions by Russians and Putin. By the time Edward Snowden comes on the scene late in the book, we laugh at Putin’s pleasure in pointing out political dissidence and jail is not just a Russian thing.
”Ask yourself, do you need to put such people in jail, or not?”
Putin was more confident during his second presidency and yet the moment he assumed power the second time his poll ratings began to fall. It was the moment citizens realized that there was really no conversation, no political discussion going on. It only takes twenty years for a political climate to change irrevocably: ask Hillary Clinton. In twenty years, young people with no historical memory bring a new clarity to what is happening right now, with no regard to what came before. Pussy Riot called out Putin; Sanders’ supporters are calling out Clinton.

Putin operated, and operates now, by relying on a close and loyal group of political “friends” from his time in the FSB and his time working for Sobchak in Leningrad. Loyalty is so prized that it would not surprise me to learn that some of the political murders committed during Putin’s reign were not “ordered” by himself. It seems entirely possible to me that elements in a large bureaucracy might prove their loyalty by eliminating static that was damaging to the leader. The problem with a large bureaucracy is that it can take on a character of its own and is not easy to change.

A really strange event occurred early in Putin’s first presidency: the bombing of the apartment buildings in Moscow and the sacks of FSB-sourced explosives found in the apartment building in Ryazan. These incidents have never been satisfactorily explained, and could be an example of a bureaucracy grinding out [imperfect] solutions to perceived problems that impact Putin & Co. In a case like that, or in the case of sheer incompetence (also an enduring feature of large bureaucracy), it is not hard to see Putin keeping mum out of loyalty to those he is protecting. Some actions, like poisoning political opponents or shooting reporters in the the stairwells of their buildings, are simply too crude, destructive, and beneath the dignity of someone in power to imagine they are a “command.” Bill Browder’s account of his time making money hand-over-fist in the 1990’s in Russia, Red Notice, mentioned that powerful figures known to Putin wanted the real estate on which those apartment buildings were built and were meeting resistance. Whatever the truth of the matter, this did not have to originate in the Kremlin to be horrifying in its motivation. It does appear, however, that it was condoned by the Kremlin since a good explanation was never uncovered.

One of the things that motivates Putin is the expanding power of NATO in Europe. Putin still thinks in terms of great powers and feels he is being hemmed in by Western Europe nibbling away at his satellite countries. It is hard not to sympathize. Certainly that is happening, and will continue to happen in a Clinton presidency, further exacerbating Putin’s bellicosity, and sense of infringement and inferiority.

Russia is a huge country. “Too big, really” says Ian Frazier in his big book Travels in Siberia . Putin says its size and different cultures is the reason there cannot be a representative democracy like that in America. Since even America doesn’t seem to the have the process working very well at the moment, it is difficult to pretend to know what difficulties arise when trying to restore the kind of power that was shattered by the overthrow of the tsar in twentieth century Russia. The only thing I would concede is that ruling Russia must be a very difficult job, particularly when one is looking backward. One must look ahead, not backward, when one is leading, it seems to me.

I feel like I have gotten a terrific education reading this book and am much better able to parse news coming out of Russia, Europe, and the Middle East today. I can now put Putin into the context vis-a-vis U.S. diplomatic relations. Clinton must be the last person Putin would want to see be elected president in the United States, and in some ways Trump is as unpredictable as Putin has claimed he has tried to be. But I am not recommending a vote for Trump. I think a better choice might be neither of these two.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,737 reviews1,469 followers
November 22, 2015
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. 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????????!
Profile Image for Mikey B..
983 reviews363 followers
February 15, 2018
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 collapsed with the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Putin then went on to become a government official in St. Petersburg.

The author chronicles the early background and career of Vladimir Putin. You can feel Putin’s confidence growing as he ascends the power structures and accumulates more and more clout and authority. After he became President the first target was the television media that went under state ownership and became very restricted in its news broadcasts. Putin does not convey much humor, unless at the expense of others (several examples are provided in this book).

He violently subdued Chechnya. This made him popular and seen as a strong-man in Russia. A central theme through-out this biography is that Russians want, need, and admire a strong-man. What Putin does not comprehend is that many of his actions have made him despised in the West. The cold-blooded killing of journalists and members of the opposition, the incarceration of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Putin’s friendship with Berlusconi, the military incorporation of Crimea to Russia, the campaign of “homosexual propaganda”, plus many other features (the incredible corruption) have decreased Putin’s status in Western democracies. But some of these, like Crimea, have made Putin very popular within Russia.

Putin has also become very adept and effective at blaming the U.S., NATO and the Western democracies in general for causing problems within Russia – and Russia’s “territories”, like Ukraine. He effectively lashed out at George Bush and later Barack Obama for the purported democracies that they were to set-up in the Middle East (Iraq, Libya, Syria).

Interestedly it is only in the later years, after the 4 year Presidency of Dmitri Medvedev that Putin began to display the cult of personality – Putin’s macho-man image. During the first 8 years of his Presidency (2000 – 2008) he was somewhat unassuming – more preoccupied with repressing dissent and controlling the media, the war in Chechnya, and persecuting the wealthy oligarchs.

Putin is now effectively building a very conservative Russia well linked to the Orthodox Church. This book forcefully demonstrates how Putin has become both director and producer of his Russia.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
179 reviews18 followers
August 10, 2016
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, was the New York Times's Moscow Bureau Chief for several years. As a journalist, Myers's writing style is almost wholly fact-driven. And that is all it is. There is very little analysis here. If you are looking for a deep dive into Putin's psyche, or theories as to what drives Putin, you will not find it in this book. Myers provides the necessary facts for you to make your own gander at deconstructing the Russian president, but you will have to do it on your own.

For example, Myers explains that Putin has been deeply impressed by the Russian political philosopher Ivan Ilyin, frequently quoting him in speeches and prompting CIA analysts to read up on the obscure Russian thinker. But Myers's exploration of Ilyin is cut short there. I would have liked even five more paragraphs summarizing the direction of Ilyin's thought, since it likely provides valuable insight into Putin's world view and perhaps therefore his motivation, but that summary never came.

Nevertheless, I did learn an enormous amount about Russia's recent history and Putin as its leader. I have a far better understanding of current events in Ukraine as well as Russia's recent (and, having read this, totally unsurprising) encounters with the U.S. military at Russia's western doorstep in the Baltic Sea.
4 Stars.
Profile Image for Steven Z..
585 reviews116 followers
February 24, 2016
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 the death of 334 hostages, 186 of which were children, Putin was beside himself. With repeated Chechen terror attacks inside Russia, and a war that was not going well, Putin resorted to his predictable stonewalling excuses. Outside Russia events did not go Putin’s way either. Already resentful of what he perceived to be western encroachment in the traditionally Russian sphere of influence in the Baltic, along with the election of Viktor Yushchenko as the Ukrainian president, a man who favored NATO membership and closer ties to the west, the Russian leader was forced to face another uncomfortable situation fostering a drastic shift in Russian policy. Myers, a New York Times reporter spent seven years in Moscow during the period of Putin’s consolidation of power, has written a remarkably comprehensive biography of the Russian president that should be considered the standard work on this subject.

The books title, “The New Tsar” is a correct description of Putin’s reign that even included a Tsarevitch, Dimitri Medvedev, as Putin’s handpicked successor as President of Russia in 2008. For Putin the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Union, a belief that provides tremendous insight into his policies. Emerging from the corruption and incompetence of the presidency of Boris Yeltsin, Russia by 1998 was in deep trouble economically and politically. Yeltsin also hand-picked his successor, a former KGB operative, who was stationed in Dresden, East Germany in 1989, Vladimir Putin. Meyers presents an objective approach to Putin’s life before the Berlin Wall came down. Putin would grow up listening to stories of his father, Vladimir, fighting on the western front during World War II and being wounded by the Germans. His mother, Maria survived the siege of Leningrad and escaped into the countryside. The harrowing experiences of his parents left an indelible impression on the young Putin. His father suffered with a limp after the war, and his mother was overly protective of her son. Putin had a slight build as a child and turned to the martial arts to deal with bullies. His success at Judo provided Putin with a certain toughness and a means of asserting himself. Putin craved orthodoxy and rules, neither of which he found in religion and politics.

Myers stresses Putin’s education in economics and law school, but more importantly he points to Putin’s time in the KGB when he was stationed in Dresden. While being posted to East Germany Putin was exposed to the Stasi and their practices. Putin was involved in intelligence operations, counter intelligence analysis, and scientific and technical espionage. The KGB’s goal in East Germany was to gather intelligence and recruit agents who had access to the west, especially individuals who had relatives near American and NATO military bases. Putin was heavily involved in recruiting and running agents to determine East German support for the Soviet Union. In 1987, Putin who was very popular with his superiors was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and the Dresden Station Chief’s senior assistant, or enforcer. Myers traces Putin’s actions as Mikhail Gorbachev instituted Glasnost and Perestroika and his reaction to events in November, 1989 as the Berlin Wall came down. Two years later, the Soviet Union finally gave way after a failed coup against Gorbachev, and Yeltsin emerged as the dominant political figure in Russia. Putin’s reaction to events led him to resign from the KGB. The future “Tsar” was now cast adrift.

In contemplating Putin’s career one must ask, how he progressed from being a former intelligence operative to President of Russia in seven years. Myers does an excellent job framing Putin’s behavior and beliefs following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Rising to the position of Deputy Mayor of Leningrad he attached himself to the coattails of a former law professor at his alma mater, Anatoly Sobchak. It was during Sobchak’s administration that Putin, because of his economics background negotiated no bid contracts with newly created corporations that involved numerous kickbacks and extensive fraud. Leningrad’s treasury was almost empty and casino gambling was seen as a source of revenue. This would lead to organized crime and the emergence of the new corporate oligarchs controlling the local economy. Myers points to rumors of Putin’s involvement, but can’t make a definitive case. It was at this time that a number of these new oligarchs that emerged under Yeltsin, businessmen like Yuri Kovalchuk and Vladimir Yakunin whose metal company received licenses to export aluminum and non-ferrous metals grew very close to Putin, and years later would become titans of Russian industry. Putin’s role in Leningrad’s economy increased under Sobchak and more and more cronies from his KGB past were given prominent positions in the city’s government. Myers refers to these men as the “St. Petersburg boys,” who would emerge as important players when Putin assumed power. Sobchak’s goal was to make his city the friendliest to foreign investment in the entire country. Putin’s goal was to help create a new “window to the west,” the first major transformation of its kind since Peter the Great. Putin would operate in the background with no fanfare and little emotion. He knew how to slice through the bureaucracy and Russia’s opaque laws and used his Leningrad experience as a primer on how to get things done.

Putin would remain in Leningrad until 1996 when Sobchak was not reelected mayor. Putin was without a job, but Yeltsin would be his savior. Yeltsin’s own support in the presidential election of 1996 were the bankers, media moguls, and industrialists who had acquired controlling interests in major industries in return for keeping Yeltsin’s government afloat. Putin was appointed to the Presidential Property Management Directorate to oversee the legal issues as he was in charge of reasserting the government’s control over certain properties and dispensing with others. Seven months later Putin was put in charge of investigating abuses of Russian property and restoring order, and ending the corrupt schemes that were destroying the Russian economy. Putin’s work brought him into contact with the FSB (really a new KGB with another name!) and earned a graduate degree with a thesis focusing on Russia’s natural resources. More and more Putin believed that the state had to reassert its control over its own natural resources that were being pilfered by "oligarchs.” This belief would form the basis of Putin’s economic policy once in power as he would use Russia’s vast energy resources as a tool against the west and former Soviet republics that did not conform to his vision of Russia’s spheres of influence.

Putin had gained a reputation as a competent, hard-working individual who did not press a particular agenda on Yeltsin. With the corruption in the FSB, the economy imploding, Yeltsin appointed Putin as the head of the intelligence agency, Putin had come full circle. Myers description of Yeltsin’s reign as president is one of economic disaster, corruption on a scale not imagined by many in his inner circle, and navigating from one crisis to another. Throughout it all Putin was loyal and conducted himself in a ruthless and efficient manner that made him essential to Yeltsin’s political survival and he rewarded Putin with the leadership of the Security Council in addition to his duties as Director of the FSB.

Myers successfully integrates the second Chechen war into the narrative on top of Yeltsin’s domestic troubles. This occurred at the same time NATO was bombing Serbia because of its actions in Kosovo, and the Russian leadership was powerless to support its Slavic brothers and greatly feared that the west could do the same in Chechnya. Yeltsin could not run for reelection in 2000, so he needed an heir that he trusted. He offered Putin the office of Prime Minister and then he would resign before the election, to provide the little publicly known Putin a leg up on the presidency. Myers does a superb job describing these machinations that resulted in Putin’s elevation. One of his first moves upon assuming office in September, 1999, was to send Russian forces back into Chechnya, after four attacks in and around Moscow that killed over 300 people, a move he would stand by for years despite negative results.

Myers discussion of Putin’s reign is sharp and focused and explains many of the problems that the United States faces today with the Russian leader. Putin’s approach to government is his version of the “dictatorship of law” or “managed democracy,” which may reflect some of the trappings of democracy, but are fixed or manipulated to accomplish certain ends. Putin was aided by the strong recovery in energy markets after his election in 2000. With increasing funds in the Kremlin coffers, Putin prosecuted his war in Chechnya in a vicious fashion. This would produce a series of terrorist attacks that would cost Moscow dearly. When Putin’s leadership and tactics were questioned during terrorist attacks at a movie theater on October 23, 2002 in southeast Moscow that resulted in the death of 130 hostages, and the terrorist siege of a school in Breslan in North Ossetia, the Russian President stonewalled any explanations for his military responses. This was Putin’s pattern in a crisis, as was evidenced earlier when the nuclear submarine Kursk sank in 2000 with the loss of 118 men. Despite these disasters and the Chechen war that was turning into a quagmire, Putin’s popularity could not be questioned, in large part because reporters, commentators, or politicians who raised issues or made negative comments about Putin, tended to disappear. Putin had a carefully crafted image supported by his media friends who would not pursue the truth concerning the assassinations of Anna Politkoyskaya, a journalist critical of Putin, Alexsandr Litvinenko, a former FSB operative who exposed corruption and bribery in the agency, among numerous others.

Myers does a commendable job explaining the second “rape” of the Russian economy, the first under Yeltsin that produced the first wave of oligarchs, the second under Putin. Names like Yukos, Gazprom, Rosneft, and their CEO’s are explored in detail and the reader acquires an inside look at how Putin dealt with economic threats to his regime as he sought to recover the state’s assets. However, at the same time he allowed many of the “St. Petersburg boys” access to new wealth, creating a second wave of “new” oligarchs. The trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the head of Yukos, the largest oil company in Russia is emblematic as to how Putin operated. The end result is that Putin gained control of all aspects of the Russian economy, and of course with the attendant corruption, his own wealth accumulated tremendously, estimated at about $40 billion by Russian journalists and the CIA. As an editorial in Kommersant opined, “the state has become, essentially a corporate enterprise that the nominal owners, Russian citizens no longer control.”

When Putin first rose to power many hoped a strong relationship between the United States and Russia would result. Putin was very supportive following 9/11 and approved of American military bases in former Soviet republics to conduct the war against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. After meeting Putin for the first time, President George W. Bush had a positive reaction as he said, “I looked the man in the eye, I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy…..I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.” Bush was either naïve or uninformed about Putin and the course he pursued. Putin grew angry at the United States when the Bush administration refused to alter provisions of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), and the eventual American withdrawal from the treaty. Further, Putin was against the American invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and this was capped off with the Ukrainian election of 2004 where reformers and government protestors wanted to move closer to the west and become members of NATO. Putin’s frustration and anger at the United States further increased when President Bush decided to negotiate with Poland and the Czech Republic for bases for a Missile Defense System. This led to the February, 2007 Putin speech at the Munich Security Conference where the Russian president excoriated the Bush administration in what Myers describes as similar to Winston Churchill’s Iron Curtain speech. With the economic collapse of 2008 and its effect on the Russian economy, Putin would only blame the United States. Further, the election of Barrack Obama, the Russian invasion of Georgia, trade disagreements, events in the Ukraine and Crimea, and the current Syrian crisis, it is not surprising that it seems we are now witnessing a second Cold War.

Putin could not run for reelection in 2008, but as Myers points out, like Yeltsin he also had an heir, Dimitri Medvedev, a former head of Gazprom, and an individual who appeared to be easier to deal with. However, with Putin as Prime Minister pulling the strings, Kremlin policy remained the same, accept with a softer face. During his presidency Medvedev was consistently forced into the background be it the 2009 economic crisis, the Russian invasion of Georgia, and other issues-Putin just could not stay in the background. Medvedev’s speeches were vetted by Putin and it was demeaning for the Russian president as he was now overshadowed by his Prime Minister.

After reading Myers’ book, the reader should have a handle of who Putin is and what he believes in. I agree with Gal Beckerman’s description of Putin as a man who represents his country, represents stability, and “stands against the chaos of the street; one man who still believes in the unique power of the state personifies its sovereignty and its prerogative to defend its interests; one man who embodies calm, measured authority resists the emotional swell of undisciplined, angry people, and understands that the appearance of forcefulness and obstinacy can be as powerful as an actual show of force.” After digesting Myers’ narrative of Putin moving from crisis to crisis, some self-created and some external to Russia, it becomes clear that he simply believes that “he’s the last one standing between order and chaos,” whether he is dealing with protesters challenging his return to the presidency during and after the 2012 elections, “Chechen separatists, E.U.-loving Ukrainian politicians or the West as a whole, working through nefarious pro-gay N.G.O.’s or NATO.” (New York Times, November 2, 2015)

Putin’s greatest gamble according to Myers was his illegal seizure of the Crimea in reaction to the violence in Kiev on February 2, 2014. Protestors had taken to the streets forcing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the capitol. Putin was presiding over the closing ceremonies of the Sochi Winter Olympics and saw events in the Ukraine as a western plot to deny Russia the accolades that it deserved because of the success of the games. Incensed, Putin met privately with a few trusted advisors and planned to foster the breakup of the Ukraine by seizing the Crimea. The Russian invasion began on February 27, 2014 negating the argument he employed against President Obama about unilaterally invading countries as the US had done in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Putin correctly calculated that since that the west would not react as it had in 1990 removing Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait, as it had not acted against the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. Putin’s fait accompli would not be reversed and his rationale of protecting “ethnic Russians” was domestically popular and would later be used to justify Russian military moves in Eastern Ukraine. Even after the dubious referendums in Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk; in addition to the Russian shoot down of a Malaysian airliner, Putin was convinced the west would do nothing, and he would rally his country against the foreign conspiracy to isolate Russia politically, and hurt her economically with sanctions. Not only did Putin not worry about western actions, it seemed he no longer cared as is evidenced by the current situation in Syria as Russian planes continue bombing to prop up the regime of Hafez el-Assad, as opposed to his public position of fighting ISIS.

Myers conclusion that Putin no longer cared to rule pragmatically as he had done during his first two terms in office, and would focus on reasserting Russia’s power with or without the recognition of the west, is correct. Myers should be commended for his work and anyone interested in understanding, the “new tsar” should consult it.
Profile Image for Kelley.
Author 1 book27 followers
January 30, 2023
The New Tsar is brilliant biography of Vladimir Putin. Journalist Steven Lee Myers has created a through and readable depiction of Putin’s life story, giving a very solid sense of who he is and how that played into his rise to power.

Putin initially doesn’t seem to have been especially ambitious to be Russian President. Yet, he seems to have had the knack to be at the right place at the right time having met the right people along the way. Like many key leaders (Ulysses Grant, Franklin Roosevelt, George H. W. Bush), he experienced very bad times that shook him to his core, but he rose from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix to rise to even greater height and ultimate power.

This book is incredibly thorough. It’s not casually constructed. In fact I’m not sure how Myers, an American, could know so much about the inner workings of Russia. I admire that he tried to look at Putin more dispassionately. Yet, it’s hard to disguise that by the time of his 3rd term as President, Putin clearly has gone off the rails. Perhaps with the first two terms, he was somewhat interested in service, but by the third, it seems that autocratic self-interest was his main motivation. I do think this would have been a better book if Myers had delved more into the psychology behind the shift in how Putin perceived his power and became such a ruthless autocrat.

I bought this book in December 2019, but now with the Ukrainian war, I knew it was time to read it at last. I really appreciate that this book does present understanding about Putin’s thinking about Ukraine. It’s not so much about Ukraine itself. But rather it is Putin’s mania that Ukraine is pro-European at the expense of Russia itself. He also has an intensely anti-American perspective that helps him see a US bogeyman in every corner of perceived opposition.

To me, these factors help explain his motivation to pursue that war. While this book was written in 2015, it is especially relevant for today, explaining a great deal about the keys to his hatred of Ukraine — so much so that he seeks to destroy it in a brutal war.

A key to his power has been the oligarchs who have made billions of dollars because of Putin’s patronage. Many of them he has known closely much of his life. He placed them in businesses of power which they rode to dazzling economic heights. They support Putin unequivocally because they know where their power resides. It’s a tricky symbiotic relationship. They can’t survive without him, and he cannot without them. They seem to be incredibly corrupt, yet it’s state-sponsored corruption on a massive scale. All for personal enrichment that presents some value to Russia along the way. It also seems, though murkily so, that Putin himself has amassed a fortune that is well hidden and beyond public views, which Myers doesn’t cover much but does touch upon gently.

I bought this book in Bangkok, Thailand where at a bookshop I started a conversation with a man who highly recommended this particular book. I am so grateful for his convincing explanation because this book is entirely relevant for today contemporary news. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!
Profile Image for Mona.
196 reviews26 followers
December 14, 2019
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 attacks were in Russia. Those events are described primarily in order to criticize the behavior of main character, but I still learned a lot. 


1. Certainly, objectivity was not author's goal. This is clear starting with the title and throughout every page of this book. I sincerely doubt that any American can objectivity write Putin's biography, so I knew what to expect. However, putting at least occasionally some good characteristic of the main character would make it more believable and less propaganda- like. There are no people who are exclusively good or exclusively bad in this world. 

2. I reviewed bibliography and what strikes me is how few direct sources author had and how few interviews he conducted himself. More then 95% of the book is based on newspaper articles and books of other authors. It's nice to have it combined and selected for you, but still it's second hand information and third hand conclusions.

3. Very little information about Putin's family and personal life. Granted- author could not do much about it as this information is kept secret. 

Overall, highly recommend for someone interested in Russia and its political scene. But if reader looks for objective look at Vladimir Putin persona - I would look elsewhere. 
Profile Image for Ctgt.
1,439 reviews82 followers
September 4, 2017
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 Times as correspondent and Moscow bureau chief during many of the crucial years of Putin's rise to power this is probably as close as we can get.
Jam packed with information, the beginning plods along almost sedately-family background, a teenager walking into a KGB office to volunteer his services, a far from spectacular career in the KGB. But his career reaches a tipping point when he is named an adviser to Anatoly Sobchak, the first democratically elected mayor of St. Petersburg. It is here in St. Petersburg where he begins to create a network of cronies who follow him throughout the rest of his career.....and it is here where the shady money deals begin. He moves on to the Yeltsin administration and the rest is history.


Profile Image for Tudor Ciocarlie.
457 reviews215 followers
July 10, 2017
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 was) and his undemocratic ways found fertile soil in the Russian people. So almost overnight Putin became the most powerful man in Russia, then by consolidating and multiplying this power he became the head of the state with the most power in the world. Fortunately for Russians he loves Mother Russia more than anything in the world, but unfortunately for them and for the rest of the world, he identifies himself with his country, so every affront to him is one against Mother Russia and he believes that everything he feels and thinks is what Russia is feeling and thinking. He is clearly a dictator and what happens in Russia has nothing to do with democracy. But reading this book I was thinking that it could have been much worse. Can you imagine the world in which Donald Trump has in his hands as much power as Putin has in his right now?
Profile Image for Maćkowy .
295 reviews71 followers
February 15, 2021
Mówisz Putin Myślisz Rosja.
Z jednej strony jest to klasyczna, dobrze udokumentowana biografia, z drugiej zapis kształtowania się putinowskiej Rosji. Książka stylistycznie bez fajerwerków, raczej z tych suchych, za to autor nadrabia rzetelnością i skrupulatnością z jaką spisuje zagmatwane ścieżki kariery "Nowego Cara". Bardzo pouczająca, chociaż może znużyć.
Profile Image for Marni.
912 reviews
March 19, 2023
This appears to be a well-researched 'tome'. I made it to about page 220 and had enough. That was two chapters into Putin's presidency and reminded me too much of Trump's unexplainable actions. The first part of the book did make me realize that the generations of Communism have and will influence Russia for a long time. I can understand how it is almost impossible to convert a people to what we call democracy.
Profile Image for Ailith Twinning.
649 reviews34 followers
December 14, 2019
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 fields I know anything about -

The early bits of The New Tsar cover the myth of Putin's childhood, and then present him as a sympathetic "I wanna be an action hero!" kind of character. There are slight digs such as saying he probably lost more street fights than he won, a weird tendency of the book to reference him being short repeatedly that is maintained throughout (diminutive gets used a few times), iunno, 5'6 isn't especially short man, and using it to say that Bush "towered" over him is clearly just, well, it's basically lewd, and yes, I do mean it comes off vaguely sexual. But the thing is that these digs are slight early on, spaced out, and Myers more or less sticks to the myths, then going back for a bit of skeptical shading afterwards.

Right up until the movement that got him to be Vice President -- where skepticism suddenly becomes "Isn't it likely Putin was in charge of the KGB terrorist bombings in Russia?" It then backs off again right up until the very end where the portrayal is a Putin that has lost his mind, maybe wants to force WWIII, only has power for the sake of power, is old, held together by cosmetic surgery, totally crushed his people, lost his popularity, wants to restore the USSR maybe, and (of course) is an existential threat to the US.

When you read that part it becomes impossible to forgive the fact that Myers did a masterful job of avoiding mention of the US wherever possible -- and even when referring to US crimes because Putin did just hand-wave it as an example of Putin using moral equivalence to justify his aggression/crimes/whatever.

I won't argue about the merits of Putin, because I don't care; I'm not Russian and he's not my problem -- my own government's problems are big enough to try and deal with. However, I find the overall tone of The New Tsar to degenerate to full-on propaganda by the end, and that offends me; it feels like a violation.

With that said, it is still an interesting read. Just -- take it with a grain of salt. And above-all, resist the urge when the US becomes an actual character in the play to take the sides as presented. There's something sinister there. Think, ask questions, hypothesise motive.

Profile Image for Jean.
1,708 reviews742 followers
October 11, 2015
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 Putin’s rise to power. Myers reveals Putin’s life as a child, through his schooling and his role at the KGB. The author also discusses Putin rise to power and to the Presidency of Russia.
Myers shows how Putin’s use of perks of power to create a complex system of cronyism, nepotism, and corruption; then Putin claims this is the Russian way of life. Myers shows when civil war broke out in Chechnya, Putin’s strong-arm tactics and hard line stance against terrorism swung popular opinion his way. Myers shows how Putin’s speeches increasingly harkened back to the worst part of the cold war era. I was most interested in the takeover of the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Myers ends the book with the haunting lyrics from a Great Patriotic War song that was conveniently used for the appropriation of the Crimea.

The book is well written and researched and portrays an effective profile of a powerful autocrat. Myers has maintained a neutral portrayal throughout the book. The book is fairly long at about 23 hours. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. Rene Ruiz did a good job narrating the book.
Profile Image for Hans Klis.
Author 8 books18 followers
October 30, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Conor Ahern.
657 reviews189 followers
April 18, 2017
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. People glibly call Putin a 'psycho,' which seems part based in fact, part based in admiration, and more than a little bit a holdover from Cold War animosities and distrust of Russian counterbalance to Euro-American hegemony. But aside from his desire to maintain absolute power and his childish need for approval from the West, I'm not sure we were given that, so much as we were presented with the facts and encouraged to make our own conclusions, not that much different from before grappling with this 600-page tome.

Maybe that's what good journalists do--Steven Lee Myers was, after all, the NYT bureau correspondent for the Moscow desk--but it felt detached. I gather that The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin is pretty good; maybe that will scratch this itch?
Profile Image for Andrew.
63 reviews21 followers
February 19, 2021
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 (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6yw...).

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 some of the most well known leaders and strategists of the past.

Basically, Putin had a plan and executed it to perfection. The way he used his position during the Boris Yeltsin presidency to portray himself as a strong and tough leader, especially during a time when tensions in Chechnya were simmering - is a reflection of the way Putin looks at politics like a game of chess.

This book also looks into the abuse of political power, corruption and eroding civil liberties in modern day Russia, since Putin came into power. The jailing of his critic Alexei Navalny in 2021 sums up perfectly Putin's reign!
Profile Image for Robert.
33 reviews1 follower
April 25, 2019
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 Nemtsov. That being said I thoroughly enjoyed the book and definitely recommend it if you are eager to learn more about Russia after the Soviet Union.
Profile Image for Jorrit.
79 reviews3 followers
December 25, 2021
Een prijs voor beste cover. Dat verdient dit boek. Elke keer als ik het boek weglegde na een paar bladzijdes (en dat was vaak) voelde ik de strenge ogen van Poetin me aan staren. Dus dat is alvast één ster voor de cover.

De tweede ster is voor het begin en het einde van het boek. Dat las lekker weg. Het grote middenstuk was voor mij eigenlijk net als de Sovjet-Unie: grijs en oninspirerend.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 19 books431 followers
March 14, 2022

This is a biography of Vladimir Putin, a detailed story of his rise to power. Yes, it can be a bit dry, but it’s well worth reading, especially if you’re interested in the roots of where Putin came from, as well as how he’s come to exercise his power.

Clocking in at about 600 pages, it’s not a small book, and there’s a lot that’s covered, a lot of events that might get a passing reference in other texts gets time on this stage. That being said, where this book truly excels is how Myers digs deep into the early career of Putin, his time in the KGB, his formative early years in the Russian government. Myers has done a lot of work to shine light on a part of Putin’s life that can seem shrouded in mystery.

Putin, however, has a gift for switching the narrative and gilding the lily. So, here we see how he took an event, like Chechnya, and brutally suppressed it, then turned it into something that bolstered his popularity and increased national zeal and fervor at the same time. Then, we see how all of that impacted his political career and prospects. It all spirals a bit, and Myers does a fantastic job at showing the formative events in Putin’s career, and how he managed to take them and use them to create… himself.

That is truly where this book rises above the others. Here, we see a lot of events we might only know about in passing, but through studied focus on Putin, we see how he used them as tools to further his own political prospects and career. There’s a lot of detail here, and a lot of names and events. If you aren’t into this sort of thing already, you might get a bit lost in all of it. However, if you stick it out, the reward is well worth the effort. Very rarely have I seen an author do as good of a job showing the rise of a powerful person, and how he used events as building blocks, how he changed the narrative, and how certain happenings informed his perspectives on the West, NATO, the UN and more.

Dry? Yes, a bit, but oh-so-informative.
Profile Image for Casper Veen.
Author 1 book24 followers
January 2, 2023
Zeer interessante en diepgravende biografie. Wel bizar veel slordigheden in de Nederlandse vertaling, niet te geloven, maar boeiend boek dat een goed beeld geeft van de Russische president.
Profile Image for Sherri.
289 reviews
November 10, 2017
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 when he moves into areas of speculation. He also manages to be comprehensive (on Putin’s life and Russia’s history during Putin’s life) while still keeping the book readable and interesting. I learned a lot and never lost interest.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away to say that the book confirms that Putin is basically a crime boss trying legitimize his actions under the false claim of democratic government. He’s been responsible or connected to some terrible things (poisoning, jailing or exiling the political opposition, dismantling the free press in Russia, killing journalists, election fraud, invading Crimea, shooting a passenger plane out of the air over the Ukraine, fostering and tolerating widespread corruption that has made him and his cronies obscenely rich, and on and on). For anyone who values democracy and a free press, I think this is an important book to read to understand how these things can be eroded and dismantled.

If you are going to read the book, you should know that it ends with coverage of the Boeing 777 passenger plane that Russia shot down over the Ukraine which means there is no discussion of Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election.

My only complaint about the book was the narrator. I listened to the book, and the narrator’s voice grated on me for the first couple of chapters until I got used to it.
Profile Image for Dramatika.
666 reviews42 followers
May 21, 2017
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 to not to provide any new insights, which might make the book readable. It is like reading bullet points from the news of the past quarter century.
Profile Image for Peter.
1,135 reviews35 followers
March 28, 2016
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 helpful hint.

This is a must-read for anyone interested in geopolitics in general, and Russia in particular. It is thoroughly researched and written by an acknowledged expert. In spite of the dense details provided, it reads easily and it gives us a picture of the man who is able to fool both his nation and his international opponents into thinking that he is everything but what he is—a snake in a suit and a covert chameleon able to make others see in him whatever they want.

Perhaps the surprising part of Putin’s life story is how low-level he was until the late 1990s. A small and brawling youth, he joined the KGB with stars in his eyes and rose to a lieutenant colonelcy. But he was posted to dead end jobs, his last in East Germany during the 1991 collapse of the Russian empire. He was considered brave but too much of a risk taker—doing things that would put him in the limelight if they failed. He was essentially a middle-of-the-road background figure in a job requiring anonymity.

So what brought this lackluster shadow to prominence? Of special importance was his alliance with the democracy movement in Russia, particularly his support of opposition to the putsch in 1991 when hardliners tried to defeat oust Gorbachev and Yeltsin came to his aid. At the time Putin was chief of staff to Anatoly Sobchak, the mayor of St. Petersburg and a darling of the democracy movement; this put him in the right place at the right time. That Putin would support democracy is surprising and undoubtedly opportunistic. In spite of his pronouncements in favor of democracy, he has shown little tendency in that direction.

Putin resigned from the KGB in 1991. Soon he was interviewed in a documentary about Sobchak and the new Russia, bringing him to national attention. Perhaps Putin’s first sniff of the joys of corruption was a barter deal he arranged to import food to St. Petersburg: in 1993 the “shock therapy” intended to convert Russia quickly to a market economy had disrupted the national economy and food shortages emerged in St. Petersburg. While the bartered goods left Russia, little food returned—the difference went into the pockets of the contractors (including, presumably, Putin). A scandal ensued, but Putin successfully avoided any direct connection even though he was responsible for negotiating the contracts. This established a pattern for Putin’s future—he would be “clean” while others did the time.

When Sobchak lost his bid for reelection in 1996 Putin was once again out of a job. But his reputation as an effective behind-the-scenes fixer had brought him to Boris Yeltsin’s attention. He moved from St. Petersburg to Moscow and climbed on the Yeltsin bandwagon as Yeltsin’s deputy chief of staff, just as Yeltsin’s health began to fade. His primary responsibility was to ferret out corruption in the machinery of governance, a case of the fox in the henhouse. In the same year Putin submitted a “Ph.D. dissertation” to the St. Petersbug Mining Institutute. Apparently Putin never took any course at the institute and the thesis was a ghost-written and plagiarized effort to pad his resumé, a common practice by Russian officials. The topic was the use of Russia’s natural resources as a source of future economic growth, a theme Putin has vigorously pursued.

Within four years of hist attachment to Yeltsin, Putin rose to become Russian President, a remarkably rapid climb. In 1998 Yelsin appointed Putin as director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the KGB’s successor. Putin did not want to return to the covert world, but he loyally accepted the post and became Russia’s superspook, with access to all of its intelligence information and power over its intelligence resources. In 1999 Yeltsin appointed Putin to be his prime minister. Soon afterward Yeltsin resigned and Putin became interim President; this was the first transfer of leadership in Russia without death or coup. This abrupt rise to power was a reward for Putin’s lip service to democracy, his reputation for absolute loyalty to his boss in a country known for intrigue and betrayal, and his extreme competence at doing his master’s bidding.

Putin’s first term held hope for rapprochement with the West, but as time passed his focus shifted to maintaining and increasing his power. Putin’s announced goal appears to be stability through statism—the use of a strong central state to create a stable social and economic environment, thus avoiding the instabilities that unfettered capitalism (and unfettered corruption) induces; Putin describes his political philosophy as “managed democracy,” seeing himself as the savior of stability and order—the operative word is “managed.” What Putin ignores is that his “managed democracy” equates Russia’s health with his own, and it has engendered both economic and social instability: the failure to enforce laws fairly and equally has created a fear and vulnerability; the rise of the oligarchs (encouraged by the fire sale prices of state-owned enterprises) had created divisions between the people and the “one-percenters,” but Putin’s way of beating them into line has added to popular uncertainty about the rule of law; the blatant corruption of a cooperative state bureaucracy has only increased fears of expropriation and imprisonment. As Putin’s fist has tightened, even strong supporters like Yeltsin have expressed their dismay; less favored critics have died in unusual circumstances.

In order to exert the control Putin has over Russia Putin has created a massive war chest for bribes, intimidations, and the machinery of “legal” theft. The source has been Russia’s oil and natural gas industry, the vehicle of Russia’s growth in his dissertation. After the privatization of oil and gas companies in the early years of the new Russia, Putin gathered the industry back under the state umbrella, using the state oil company, Gazprom, to purchase private companies at discounted prices. The discounts have come from intimidation and outright expropriation. The abuse of power involved has been immense (see Browder’s Red Notice for one man’s story).

Putin’s extension of power outside of Russia is, of course, the West’s primary concern. In 2005 he rigged elections in Ukraine in favor of his man and against the “orange” candidate; the result was the “Orange Revolution,” a popular uprising that ousted Putin’s man and established an independent democracy now weakened by Putin’s occupation of the Crimean Peninsula and his support for ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. In Chechnya his military brutality has suppressed a nationalist movement, but in its place an Islamic movement has emerged. His “assistance” in Syria has protected the Assad regime from Islamic fighters but at the expense of the rebels against Assad. His interference in Georgia has undermined the “Rose Revolution” there. These all have been a source of international tension and a clear indication of Putin’s wish to restore Russia’s previous hegemony.

Putin is a complex man, a composite of opposites: he has no ideology—he seeks no return to communism nor is he devoted to democracy and a market economy; he seems more directed to creating a new Tsarist Russia than to the initial ideals of the democracy movement. His internal inconsistencies define his character: he purports to be an advocate of democracy, including its major institutions like the secret ballot, elections of officials, and open debate—yet he quickly suppresses these when they conflict with his goals; he is an advocate of the rule of law so long as he can manage its application (he once described his government as a “dictatorship of law”); while he does not seem to seek riches for himself, eschewing displays of wealth and apparently “owning” little property—he encourages illegal acts to expropriate the property of others, typically those who oppose him, both as punishment and as a source of his war chest for bribes and inducements.

In 2008 the conclusion of Putin’s second term required that he leave office. His prime minister, Dimitri Medvedev, was elected President and Medvedev appointed Putin as his prime minister. This was, of course, a charade designed to allow Putin to continue running the show while paying lip service to the Russian constitution’s term limits. Regrettably, President Obama seems to have bought the shift and cosied up to Medvedev as if he was the real center of power. Obama was not our only president to be duped by Putin: during Putin’s relatively benign first term he was highly regarded by George W. Bush as a “man I can deal with.” Putin’s chameleon-like quality had once again allowed others to think they had his measure.

I think that by now we all have his measure, and this book is an important part of that understanding.

Five stars.
Profile Image for Tanner Nelson.
209 reviews7 followers
July 27, 2022
After 22 years of uncontested power and due to his carefully cultivated cult of personality, Vladimir Putin must be recognized as a permanent resident of the world's unhallowed pantheon of autocrats. His megalomania and sociopathy are second to none. His reign is supreme and his political skill is unchallenged. Like Steven Lee Myers describes in the title of his book, Vladimir Vladimirovich is truly a new Tsar.

Much has been written about President Putin in the 22 years he has led Russia. He keeps his private matters close enough to his chest that the majority of it is speculation. Mr. Myers' book represents a prodigious journalistic effort to unearth and demystify Putin's past. It's worth all the effort. The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin is a stupendous biographical account of one of the world's most notorious villains. Despite this, however, Myers doesn't make a concerted effort to paint Putin as a bad guy. In fact, I found the book to be quite even-handed. It assigned both blame and success where deserved. No, Putin's villainy is a product of his own creation. His craving for absolute control is a theme throughout The New Tsar. The first inkling of his obsession for control is described shortly after his marriage to Lyudmila Putina. He presumably ditched the prospect of a happier marriage in favor of a union with Lyudmila, who was much more pliable and malleable than Putin's first choice. Then, as time went on, Putin's lust for power and control grew steadily.

Not only is Mr. Myers' book an excellent biography of Mr. Putin, but it also outlines the chronology of Russia's democratic collapse. After a very brief flirtation with freedom, democracy, and civil rights, Putin plunged the former superpower back into the darkness of paranoia and autocracy. Beginning with his role as the President of the FSB (Russia's security service), Putin carefully crafted a cult of personality around himself. He took credit for successes but deftly pawned off any blame. Combined with a methodical campaign to reign in Russia's burgeoning free media, he arose from each crisis as the only leader Russia could imagine.

By my estimation, there are no post-Putin plans in Russia. His authority is supreme and his inability to share the limelight means that no other politician comes close to matching him. When his term as president comes to a close (allegedly it will happen in 2024, but I will be astounded if he ever freely relinquishes power), I wonder who will replace him?

Steven Lee Myers' writing is superb. He is an absolutely engaging author. I wish this book were written now, though, to be able to capture the chaos surrounding Russia's titanic Ukrainian blunder. The New Tsar is a must-read for anyone interested in geopolitics or international affairs.
Profile Image for Alberto.
101 reviews19 followers
November 30, 2021
Biografía de Putin con muchos detalles. Aunque el libro es extenso se lee con facilidad
Profile Image for Kumail Akbar.
251 reviews33 followers
April 24, 2022
I read somewhere that true freedom is experienced by adherence to rules one gives oneself. If this is so, I am clearly unfree as I had taken a personal rule of avoiding biographies until I turn forty (completely arbitrary rule, please don’t ask why). However, I seem to have broken this rule yet again, although in my defense, I have read a bit about Russia from the revolution till the rise of Vladimir Putin. Current events (chiefly Russia’s invasion of Ukraine) egged me onto reading a bit more about the man himself, and the politics of Russia as he cultivated around himself, especially after the Yeltsin years. And I am glad that I chose to be unfree, because I was rewarded by a spectacular read, one that was very informative and incredibly hard to put down.

Putin, as Meyers tells us, is the quintessential product of 20th century Russia – the child of survivors of Stalingrad who grew up in communist Russia, an ambitious kid from outside the Moscow elitedom who made it in the KGB, someone who learned only to see Russia through the eyes of a security obsessive spy and watched Russia pretty much implode during its brief foray into liberal democratic politics during the late 80s and 1990s. One thing that stands out, is how despite his strengths and efforts, Putin is as much a product of sheer luck and timing – someone who joined politics to support a mayor somehow got thrown up during the years of madness in Russia, only to be (pretty much randomly) selected by Yeltsin as his replacement at the dawn of the new millennium. Meyers tells us that western intelligence agencies had to rush to figure out who he was when he was tipped as Boris’ replacement, and that pretty much tells us about the role of chance in making Putin the unexpected tsar. This is not to underestimate his strengths and his ability to negotiate favorable terms for himself, he was lucky that his knowledge of german language is what enabled him to become a negotiator between businessmen and politicians, but it was his cunning craft which enabled him to use the same to his advantage, at a time when he had many more powerful, better placed, much richer and better known competitors. The new tsar is nothing like the last Romanov, he might be much more similar to the red tsar – Stalin.

Equally importantly, Putin’s politics today, especially in Ukraine, make a lot more sense once you’ve seen through his personal development and the way in which he sees the world – according to Meyers he does not bother with many news sources and relies primarily on briefings by his security insiders, who in turn have been self-selected not on the basis of any particular merit but on loyalty and the ability to survive his court room politics. Rather disturbingly, the book ends with his first attempt at annexation of Ukraine in 2015, and the parallels to the invasion of the same country in 2022 are remarkably similar. Putin’s rise and background as well as his politics is interlaced with the politics of Russia through the 2000s, with the narrative racing through the wars in Chechnya and Putin’s dealing with terror at home, his relationship with America under the Bush administration, his political absolutism in eliminating opposition at home and consolidating economic power in the hands of preferred oligarchs, and his meddling into as well as invasions of former soviet republics (given his desire to bring back the good old USSR, minus the communism) are all done justice in the narrative.

Unfortunately it ends before Obama’s first set of financial sanctions which weaponized international finance gave a massive shock to the Russian economy. More information from that period would have shed light on how Putin intends to deal with the latest rounds of sanctions, which are intended to be far more damaging. Russia’s more current shenanigans, such as participating in the war in Syria (which seems to make little strategic sense) and its alleged support to far right parties in the West, especially its role in aiding the rise of Trump to power in 2016 are also more or less missed out. I look forward to a future edition which includes write ups on the same.

Another thing that seems oddly missing is musing about the level of support Putin actually has in Russia, especially amongst the masses. It makes sense for the generations burned out by the madness of the 80s and 90s to prefer a return to a strongman. What does not seem clear is how, if at all, do the younger generations, relate with Putin and his brand of autocracy.

Overall, an incredible enjoyable read / listen (if you prefer the audiobook version). Rating 5 of 5.
Profile Image for Steve.
84 reviews13 followers
March 29, 2022
Putin is a product of the Cold War during which he grew up and dreamed of being a spy for the KGB. He is proud of his time as a youthful troublemaker.

This book details his KGB work in East Germany for which he never became a “spy”. He eventually unexpectedly becomes an aid to Yeltsin. He is then essentially annoyed by Yeltsin to be the next President of Russia.

All the events of the 90’s and 2000’s are thoroughly detailed. Events you may have glossed over are painstakingly described.

Early in his presidency, he seemed to say all the right things about freedom, markets and even visited and made an appearance while speaking good German to the German parliament.

He was the first foreign leader to call GW Bush after 9/11. They did appear to forge a bond. But there was a serious split as Bush decided to get out of the anti ballistic missile treaty. This seems to have worsened his paranoia about NATO and US global interests. At the time, I felt it was a big mistake to sunder the treaty. One issue I don’t find well covered anywhere is my recollection that Russia was abrogating the treaty by the manner in which cruise missiles were tested.

The book goes on to describe a good number of people dying from poisoning, plutonium poisoning, being shot and more - journalists, opponents, etc. Mikhail Khodorovsky was thrown in jail on trumped up charges of tax evasion and his oil company was divided up and auctioned off.

After the fall out with Bush, they hardly spoke. He was not fond of Obama and took over the Crimea. Ukraine, Georgia and NATO were major issues for him. The breakup of the Soviet empire was, in his view, a major tragedy of the 20th century.

Somehow he took a liking to Trump. “Russia if you are listening….” It is easy to see why. Trump wanted to dissolve NATO. This was Putin’s desire also. Trump liked Putin’s style and still does. For years before there was one news station talking about what a strong leader Putin was and how weak Obama was. Wait, that sort of talk continues.

These particular political issues are only lightly, if at all touched on. I recommend this book as a detailed and objective look at Putin. Next on my list just might be a big slog of a book on Stalin.
Profile Image for Jesse Field.
750 reviews38 followers
March 25, 2022
Putin seems at first like an eminently biographical figure — he’s certainly the man of the hour, this unhappy spring of 2022, having invaded Ukraine and greatly added to the instability of the whole world. Why? What’s he after? This book does gives us a peak at certain answers, though as other reviewers have noted, it’s almost more of a look at Russia since the end of the Cold War than it is a biographical account. Putin the person remains an enigma.

We learn that Putin’s father survived the siege of Leningrad to grow up sheltered, if poor, in that grungy city in the shadow of Moscow. Order appealed to Putin, as well as the romance of the KGB as depicted in Shield And Sword: The Amazing Career Of A Soviet Agent In The Nazi Secret Service.

Dead-set on a goal once it occurs to him, the young Vladimir pushed himself to complete both high school and university, and even the law, all because a KGB officer he made inquiries with told him this would make him more likely to be recruited. At last, he was, joining what had become a vast bureaucracy under Yuri Andropov.

Putin was in East Germany, a field agent, during first Perestroika and then the fall of the Berlin Wall. “Moscow is silent,” he heard others say as the Iron Curtain crumbled around him.

Back in Russia, Putin became a loyal helper to Anatoly Sobchak, the reforming, if corrupt, mayor of Leningrad, which once again took up its old name, St. Petersburg. This put him in the distant orbit of the new government headed by Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s. Yeltsin noticed Putin because of the loyalty he showed to Sobchak, helping his mentor escape when Yeltsin’s primitive law enforcement infrastructure started to investigate corruption in St. Petersburg. Putin was by this time head of the FSB, the successor organization to the KGB — the first and only civilian to head the agency. As a municipal official in St. Petersburg, Putin had gathered old KGB cronies to help him get stuff done there; at the FSB, he pulled together a similar close-knit circle of helpers.

Putin rose to more prominent power during the late 1990s, as the insurrection in Chechnya weighed the country down. After Putin was made Prime Minister by an ailing Yeltsin, he performed well to drive up martial spirit, sending a surge of military effort into the war against Chechnyan separatists. Extremely disturbing terror attacks helped justify his methods, in a sense — some say the attacks might have been planned by his government to frame the Chechnyans. It seems unlikely, except that every journalist who pursues this matter in Russia ends up dead.

Annointed as the new President by the retiring Yeltsin, Putin was practical, but ruthless, and never was too interested in elections.

Chapter 15 is of special interest in the current environment, tracing as it does Putin’s actions during the “Orange Revolution.” The upshot of this complex situation is that Putin was roundly defeated in attempts to influence the Ukrainian election and put a pro-Russian candidate in power. Ukrainians protested widely in the face of election abuses, where Russians had accepted similar abuses without protest. Viktor Yushchenko, seen as allied with the West, became the president, despite (and partly because) a mysterious poisoning incident that left Yushchenko disfigured.

Back in Russia, Putin brought the oligarchs to heel, making an example out of Mikhail Khodorkovsky by absorbing the former oligarch’s oil companies back into Gazprom, the state oil giant. (Now facing insolvency, in March 2022, thanks to the most widespread sanctions ever.)

Putin has since then, weathered a “regency” period as Prime Minister, his old St. Petersburg colleague Dmitri Medvedev in the President’s office, and then a return to power where he is widely supported by Russia’s weary electorate. The case of Pussy Riot seems particularly poignant, as the young people behind these events embodied a spirit of a rock and punk that is familiar to us in the west but still not accepted in Russia. As Katya Yekaterina would say, after her early release from prison,

Putin himself was not the villain in the prosecution against them, she believed. He simply represented the face of a conservative and deeply patriarchal society. The villain was the numbing conformity of a system, in culture and in politics, that made any deviation of thought too risky to contemplate. “The problem was not that everyone thought that we were innocent, that the charges brought against us were illegal, that Putin alone was bad, making phone calls and issuing demands in the case,” Katya explained. “The problem was that everyone thought we were guilty.”

This gives us some pause when people say the blame Putin, but not the Russian people, for the invasion of Ukraine. Not that blame is the right word in any case, but the feverish sense of being wronged by the neoliberal order is something at least some Russians share with millions of Trump voters in the United States. (No wonder the American far right can’t quite parse its response under the current conditions of war in Ukraine.)

As the book comes to a close, we return to Ukraine to see how widespread protests there in 2014 drove off the pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Unwilling to be outmanoeuvred as he was in 2004, Putin carried out a campaign of military invasion that resulted in Ukraine’s lost of the Crimea and Dunbas regions just a bit later in the year. Fundamentally, a concept of Russki mir absorbs Putin all the more as Ukrainians in Kyiv dare to stand up to him, in such stark contrast to his steady control in a much more placid Moscow.

Reading this book gives valuable context, but offers no relief. People today talk about inspiring Russians to desire something different, but that hasn’t ever worked before, it seems. In Chechnya, Georgia and Ukraine before, Putin has faced extremely messy military conditions and still found a way to call his final situation a win. This time, he has obviously faltered on the cliffs of hubris, but it doesn’t mean he’s up for any quick defeat. And it’s totally uncertain what might be next for Russia. It's a country that is paradoxically equipped with nuclear weapons, but very weak political institutions. Such a gloomy situation. But one the USA, and Europe, are destined to face up to.
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