Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books on International Relations: Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Republics: The Man without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books on International Relations: Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Republics: The Man without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

Article excerpt

Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Republics

The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. by masha gessen. Riverhead Books, 2012, 304 pp. $27.95.

Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft. by allen c. lynch. Potomac Books, 2011, 184 pp. $24.95.

Vladimir Putin's unsavory side commands more attention with each passing year. For Gessen, however, it is not merely a side of the man but his essence. She breathes her contempt for him into every paragraph of this book. Gessen was born in the Soviet Union, raised in the United States, and reintegrated into Russia as a skilled investigative reporter. She shines a piercing light into every dark corner of Putin's story: his self-described thuggish youth; the unsolved murders of some of his prominent critics, such as Anna Politkovskaya and Aleksandr Litvinenko; the expropriation of privately held business empires; his bumbling and insensitive response to the death of Russian sailors aboard the sunken Kursk submarine in 2000; and so on. Gessen has traveled to the far corners of the country and spoken with everyone who has an inside take on what happened. …

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