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Russia Without Putin: Money, Power and the Myths of the New Cold War

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  105 ratings  ·  16 reviews
How the West's obsession with Vladimir Putin prevents it from understanding Russia

It is impossible to think of Russia today without thinking of Vladimir Putin. More than any other major national leader, he personifies his country in the eyes of the outside world, and dominates Western media coverage of it to an extraordinary extent. In Russia itself, he is likewise the
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 20th 2018 by Verso (first published November 13th 2018)
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Mal Warwick
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
In his new book, Russia Without Putin, Tony Wood tries to make the case that "too much attention has been paid to the man, and not enough to the system over which he presides." It's an intriguing claim, but Wood doesn't quite pull it off. The book consists of six chapters and an epilogue. And Putin stars in every one of those chapters. Apparently, it's difficult not to pay the man "too much attention." He implies, instead, that the question we should be asking is, "Why is the Russian oligarchy ...more
Jane Costanza
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book sets out to give the reader background and context to the political and economic movement of Russia in the last 25 years in order to dispell some prominent myths we have about Russia.

Myth 1 - Putin is a one-man machine steering Russia to his will.
In fact, Putin has not changed the initial commitment of the first leaders of post-Soviet Russia. Russia's leaders have for three decades been committed to pursuing capitalism, including Putin. He is following the same policies set by
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Great analysis of the past 25 years in Russian political history. However, it lacks some detail and the argument lacks some specificity and structure. 3,5 stars actually, if Goodreads would allow it.
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
This is a good book aimed at a general audience without much knowledge of Russia since the end of the Cold War. It's structured as a series of chapters each dedicated to rebutting one of the most common 'myths of the New Cold War', moving from Putin and the Russian political regime, through economy and society, to foreign policy and possible future trajectories. Where it succeeds is, first, in being a readable and concise overview which doesn't require much background knowledge of Russia. ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
Amazing read on the entire post-Soviet era without the (Western) paranoid obsession with the personality of Putin. It's a fairly concise read to understand the deep social, economic and political transformations Russia has undergone over the past 30 years. It also shows - yet again - what a missed opportunity the 90s and 2000s were re integrating Russia into NATO/ creating a post cold war world order without NATO rather than expanding NATO to Russia's western border. Very interesting analysis on ...more
Anna Carr
This book draws some good context but fails to arrive at a conclusion. Russia can't find a place in the Western world and gets angry? Oh my, what a load of ice-cream.
Jeanne Mixon
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really lovely book -- beautiful writing and densely packed with ideas. Even at only 177 pages I found myself plowing through with great effort. The idea is that we in the West blame Putin for everything Russia does but he is not only not completely in control, but anyone occupying his position would be roughly the same -- that the wealthy corporate (corrupt) elites really control the government. Favorite new phrase: imitative democracy. I don't know if he created it, but I really like it.

Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Russia Without Putin is, I am comfortable to say without hesitancy, a great book.
Wood has a direct and easy-to-understand approach to the history of Putin’s takeover, the communist regime before that and even the influence of the Tsars before that.
That being said, whilst I thoroughly enjoyed his argument, and in the case of the Economics of Russia I quite agree with it, it did not persuade me that Putin does not hold the reins of Russia.
He makes excellent points regarding the nature of Yeltsin’
Barry Smirnoff
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The main thesis of the book is that there has been continuity in Russia’s political development since the fall of the USSR. Russia has a form of democracy that is controlled by its elites and will continue after Putin. They are not happy with their place in the world after losing their empire and Superpower status. Their economy has serious problems with low birth rates and low prices for fossil fuels and extraction industries. Because Russia had 2 instances of political upheaval and economic ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-poli-sci
The first couple chapters on the 1990's after the fall of the Soviet Union, and Putin's initial rise, are well done. We see how the oligarchy came to power due to the privatization process and Yeltsin's shock therapy, and we start to see Wood's argument that the 'imitation democratic' system in place in Russia is dependent on more context than simply the power of a single leader.

However, the rest of the book loses focus of this argument as Wood tries to explain Putin's geopolitical calculations
Chad Foster
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Most of today's analysis of Russian foreign policy is obscured by the ubiquitous personality of Vladimir Putin. He is generally seen as a "boogey man" and master manipulator who always seems one step ahead. This exaggerated assessment of Putin reflects a misunderstanding of the remarkable consistency of Moscow's foreign policy, born of its history, culture, economy, and geography. Students of Russian history often ponder if Moscow's troubled relations with its neighbors and other nations in the ...more
Matthew Podsiadly
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From an efficiency perspective, the author gets his point across in 170 pages. Given the number of authors who think readers have time for a 500 page diatribe, this is a welcome development! Viewpoint is pretty balanced. Would recommend.
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really hope this book gets covered far and wide.
Feb 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Review forthcoming.
Eddie Harvey
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
**Warning: this text may contain spoilers** A good concise analysis of Russian politics, particularly of interest regarding the legacy of the Soviet system in shoring up 90s economic shock and neoliberal state.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
An interesting read though feeling like it lacks specificity. Great overviews of recent history of Russia's demographics, class, economy, the opposition and international outlook. Drawbacks are it excludes the judicial and legal systems, doesn't really cover anyone other than Putin in some chapters, and, while usefully disambiguating "the West" in some sections, lazily rests on this loose concept in later chapters. It is well written and persuasive, though. Worth a read!

Mal Warwick has a great
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Tony Wood lives in New York and writes on Russia and Latin America. He is a member of the editorial board of New Left Review. His writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, the Guardian, n+1 and the Nation, among other publications.