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All the Kremlin's Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  3,362 ratings  ·  297 reviews
Charting the transformation of Vladimir Putin from a passionate fan of the West and a liberal reformer into a hurt and introverted outcast, All the Kremlin’s Men is a historical detective story, full of intrigue and conspiracy. This is the story of the political battles that have taken place in the court of Vladimir Putin since his rise to power, and a chronicle of friends ...more
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by PublicAffairs (first published October 8th 2015)
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May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian
Zygar reports on Putin as Russia’s leader detailing his relationships with the men around him. We see how Putin is seemingly accidentally thrust into the presidency and how he takes charge with his own entourage. We witness the changes in Putin as he consolidates power to become the Putin we recognize today. The book is very detailed introducing this reader to many new people: Oligarchs, politicians, administrators, dissidents, and Putin’s old friends. We see how Putin influences them and how in ...more
Miebara Jato
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For more than two decades, Putin has been the strongman of Russian politics. He'd spent more years than any other person, except Joseph Stalin, as president of Russia. And if the ongoing constitutional reforms on the extension of term limits are completed, Putin might remain in power till 2036, surpassing even Stalin.

Putin, like Stalin, is complicated. In a sense, the explanation of Stalin's behaviour can help understand Putin's transformation.

Stephen Kotkin's two volumes of a projected three-v
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: br, non-fiction, 2016
Fun and games with Mr Putin

Many times, whilst reading this, I imagined myself seeing a chess game were pawns get elevated even kinged at times and use and get used in turn and then they are ushered gently or not so gently off the board.

Questions that meander through my mind:

Does Putin want to leave?
Can he leave?
Will he be allowed to leave?
How will it all end?

Zygar gives a portrait of Putin or better the 'Myth of Putin', how that all began, how it grew and what it is now and what held it up and w
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Russian journalist Mikhail Zygar chronicles the rise of Vladimir Putin from his inception into the political realm, to the backroom scheming he partakes to keep him there, to the modern day Putin we see today.

Despite some time jumping which can at times be a little disorientating, the book is easy enough to follow and contains some decent insight into the Russian perspective of major events impacting on the soviet state.

Each chapter focuses on a key player (and sometime agitator) in Putin's co
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Zygar reminded me that Putin is an actual human. Sometimes I forget. L’état c’est lui. Plus a soupçon of siloviki. Zygar convinced me that Putin tried to make nice with the West (in his way) and felt rejected and that Putin believes he is doing his best for Russia. A while back he may have even considered stepping down for the life of a private oligarch.

Now Russia is his mission and identity. Putin is reputed to think of himself as an expert on everything. He’s neurotic, suspicious and values l
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book which in a concise and accessible form describes the political process in Russia during the last 15 years. Perfect to anyone who decides to do an audit of Putin's Era Russia political history.

I cannot, however, agree with the finale. Yes, the king is known to play a suite, but it doesn't mean that the king exonerated from it as from clay to sculpt any shape. "Putin has no intention of closing independent television stations," says Zygar. Excuse me, it was one of his first steps
Vitaly Repin
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptionally good journalism. I was following Russsian politics since 1990 but even I was able to find interesting and useful insights in this book.

"Must read" if you are interested in the Russian politics and Putin's phenomena. One of the best attempts to answer the question - "Who is mr. Putin?"
Aditya Pareek
This book gave me something, it was seeing Putin as human, just as human as Obama, Dublya Bush or Trump, impressionable, artificial ,coached and far less refined than what banners like RT or Russia Insider or whatnot would portray him as.
There is no Tzar, there is just a man who's a stopgap. There is no leader on the other side either.
People harp on about how the new cold war is about hard power and arms races.
Nobody talks about how its outrage and ridicule shading dysfunction that may lead to
Ivan Ievlev
May 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Usually you do not check the facts in the books, right?

That's what I did and enjoyed the story. And suddenly in the "Ramzan Kadyrov's chapter" I read the Putin's words " I treat Kadyrov as a son ..."


That's a famous fake! The whole phrase is " I treat Kadyrov Jr. as a son of his father, who helped a lot in Chechnya crisis a lot, blah-blah".


And this very unpleasant moment you realize how unreliable the whole book might be.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little hard to follow due to the complex geopolitics and sprawling cast of characters with Russian names - sometimes it was like trying to listen to a Russian radio broadcast of a chess match - but Putin and Russia are way, way more important for Americans to learn about in 2017 than we may have thought 10-15 years earlier, and you'll come away with better insight into the games the Kremlin likes to play. ...more
I would give this book 4.5 stars if I could. I thought it was interesting and thorough. I felt the chapter about Ramzan Kadyrov was a bit unruly, but overall this was an enjoyable read.

I felt some of the descriptions of this book were a tad bit off, as Mikhail Zygar doesn’t paint Vladimir Putin as a totally inept airhead who is nothing more than a figurehead for those who secretly control him; nor does it paint him as the all powerful puppet master who solely controls everything, as Putin has b
Jan 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its very hard for the historian to be neutral when telling historic facts, especially when he is talking about his country.
But for mikhail zygar, it was obvious how hard he tried not to take sides, and he made it as I believe.
I really have a better understanding about the reign of Putin and how the country is being ruled in Russia in the last 20 years.
Well earned five stars.
Paul Frandano
A breathtaking insiders' account of the rise of Putin, the shifting configurations of his court, and - to the extent that author Zygar can divine - what goes on inside Putin's head. Based largely on interviews with members of Putin's inner circle, Zygar"s analytic history contains a revelation on virtually every page. The dramatis personae is bewilderingly Tolstoyan - the book has a useful 12 pp of thumbnails of some 150 significant Russian political personalities, 19 of whom receive chapter-len ...more
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice factual attemt to reverse engineer Mr. President and his dynamic circle of 'friends'. I would add one more star if sitautions and events were better analysed, this book jumps straight into clonlusions rather fast. ...more
Joshua Foster
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Captivating and generally well thought out. An insight into the machinations of those around Putin with the subtext that Putin did not create 'Putin' (he initially did not want power and merely fell into his role), rather those around him did. Poignant and all-together tragic, I found Zygar's account a balanced account of the Putin era... he is a pariah in the Western world partially because we made him that way. I can't help but think how this could have ended (and continued) differently. Zygar ...more
Michal Mironov
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zygar wrote an exceptional book: the reading experience feels like a dynamic thriller, but it’s stuffed with facts like an encyclopedia. The characters are as if they were cut out of the Shakespearean drama where Putin is the main tragic hero who, under pressure of events, slowly turns into a paranoid dictator. The profiles of his accomplices are similarly fascinating. There is a highly intelligent spin doctor Vladislav Surkov – a truly demonic persona resembling the worst incarnation of Machiav ...more
Jeff Lacy
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mikhail Zygar is a courageous and popular Russian journalist. In All the Kremlin’s Men, he gives an account of the inexplicable rise to power of Vladimir Putin and his transforming Russia to a totalitarian government in his beloved USSR image. Zygar’s narrative is based on interviews, newspaper articles, popular and trade magazines, and internal government documents. He details — to the extent he can, I would submit under Russia’s free press constraints—events in conventional, politic, and measu ...more
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an eye-opener book! Knowing Putin only from the media distorts my perception. It seems like he is always the number one ruler in Russia, portrayed to be conflicting with US all the time. But, there is always a reason for everything. This book gives a complete history of the Kremlin from the inside out. Recommended for everyone! (so that you would not take the media as it is)
Olga Boiaryntseva
extremely interesting but extremely disgusting as well
Elizaveta Shagina
Jul 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must-read, very exciting, like a good detective. But also not very journalistic, more a novel about Russia than an investigation.
Feb 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I REALLY enjoyed this book. I've read few books by journalists who were so dedicated to their research, interviewing key individuals the way Zygar has. In addition, there was no sense of bias here. This wasn't a book intent on criticizing Putin and his regime. Nor does it ridicule Putin's opponents. It simply lays out the facts and events as they happened, as interpreted by the author and his sources.

I find Vladimir Putin, Russian history, politics, and the current state of affairs in Russia ve
Tomáš Zemko
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read, together with Peter Pomerantsev's book. ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Putin inevitably ceases to be Russia’s president, Russia analysts will be reading All the Kremlin’s Men to predict who will receive the reins and who will fight for them. One thing that becomes clear in this book is that the democratic liberal opposition (e.g. Alexei Navalny) has virtually no chance of “making it” when Putin leaves power. It is Putin’s inner circle, rather, who are going to be deploying their assets and allies against each other, racking up power or fighting to reclaim it.

Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Between 2000 and 2016, Vladimir Putin and Russia went from being, respectively, a modernizer craving western approval and a has-been empire falling apart, to the most decisive geopolitical players in the middle east and eastern Europe, driven incessantly to undermine American uni-polarity worldwide. This book is an exploration of Putin and his courtiers, attempting to explain the compulsions, ideology and inner workings of the Kremlin, and how it has changed over Putin's decade and a half at the ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did enjoy the author's encapsulation of the Putin years. He does cover some familiar ground here, The Invention of Russia by Arkady Ostrovsky and Nothing is True, but Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev. Whereas in the two former books we got the perspective of the media, print and TV respectively, here we see the politicians that media manipulation, both at home and abroad, is meant to serve.

I cannot help thinking that all three books provide different approaches to the same phenomeno
Wow. I don't know how Zygar did it, but this book is literally the complete history of Russian politics in the 21st century. Outstanding work, truly. I cannot say enough positive things about this book. the word style, the flow of events, everything, it was perfect. Seeing Putin in a whole new light, and understanding the power structure surrounding him, was eye-opening. Everyone should read this book, its absolutely flawless. I wish I owned a personal copy, sadly mine was from the library. This ...more
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Demonstrates the same pace and source knowledge as Sale of the Century. The analysis seems balanced and supports the idea that the system creates it leader. The conclusion is therefore pretty depressing that Russia is destined to lock horns with western powers for a long time after Putin has shuffled off this mortal coil
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the greatest book I've read about modern russian history. It's fulfilled with hidden facts right from Kremlin.
Book has been written by famous journalist so the terrible story of Putin the First becomes just another light novel. And that's awesome.
Joseph Fuller
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well reported history of the evolution of the cleptocracy.
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Ru: Михаил Зыгарь
Russian journalist, writer and filmmaker, and the founding editor-in-chief of the only Russian independent news TV-channel, Dozhd (2010–2015). Under Zygar's leadership, Dozhd provided an alternative to Kremlin-controlled federal TV channels by focusing on news content and giving a platform to opposition voices. The channel's coverage of politically sensitive issues, like the Mo

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“«Представьте себе, вот вы сидите в Кремле, — говорил он [Путин] Ангеле Меркель. — И у вас есть избиратели, которые живут в Калининграде, а есть те, кто живут в Петропавловске-Камчатском. И вам на всю эту территорию, разную по языкам, взглядам, быту, как-то надо объединить. Надо нечто такое этим людям сказать, чтобы их склеило. Одна ваша соотечественница, великая соотечественница, была нашей императрицей. Екатериной II. Она поначалу хотела быстро отменить крепостное право. Но потом изучила, как устроена Россия, и знаете, что она сделала? Она усилила права дворянства и уничтожила права крестьянства. У нас нельзя иначе: шаг вправо, шаг влево — и все, ты теряешь власть».” 0 likes
“По словам очевидцев, на закрытой встрече [в апреле 2008 г.] Путин вспылил, когда речь зашла об Украине. «Украина — это вообще не государство! — заявил он Джорджу Бушу. — Часть ее территорий — это Восточная Европа, а часть, и значительная, подарена нами!» Закончил свою небольшую речь Путин фразой «Если Украина уйдет в НАТО, то уйдет без Крыма и Востока — она просто распадется».

На эту угрозу Путина тогда мало кто обратил внимание, потому что все следили за тлеющими противоречиями между Москвой и Тбилиси. О том, что реальный конфликт может вспыхнуть между Россией и Украиной, никто всерьез не верил.”
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