Author(s): Masha Gessen
When Vladimir Putin, an unimportant, low-level KGB operative, was rushed to power by a group of Oligarchs in 1999, he was a man without a history. Within a few brief years, Putin had dismantled Russia's media, wrested control and wealth from the country's burgeoning business class, and decimated the fragile mechanisms of democracy. Virtually every obstacle to his unbridled control was removed and every opposing voice silenced, with political rivals and critics driven into exile or to the grave. Drawing on information and sources no other writer has tapped, Masha Gessen's fearless account charts Putin's rise from the boy who had scrapped his way through post-war Leningrad schoolyards, to the 'faceless' man who manoeuvred his way into absolute - and absolutely corrupt - power.
Shortlisted for Pushkin House Russian Book Prize 2013.
"In a country where journalists critical of the government have a way of meeting untimely deaths, Ms. Gessen has shown remarkable courage in researching and writing this unflinching indictment of the most powerful man in Russia... Although written before the recent protests erupted, the book helps to explain the anger and outrage driving that movement." -"The Wall Street Journal" "Powerful and gracefully written... Gessen's book flows on multiple tracks, tracing Putin's life back to boyhood, the story of his hometown of St. Petersburg, and finally the last quarter-century of Russian history... For all of the ghoulish detail, Gessen's account of Putin's Russia is not overwrought... [she] displays impressive control of her prose and her story, painting a portrait of a vile Putin without sounding polemical." -"San Francisco Chronicle" "Written in English but with Russian heart, Gessen focuses on the places and institutions that bred the nation's most resolute leader since Stalin... Some might say that Gessen's interpretation is political. Of course it is... but more importantly, it is thorough. She has seen fellow journalists killed, has been harassed herself, and yet continues to write from Russia... Her urgency is felt on nearly every page." -"Bookforum" "[Gessen] shines a piercing light into every dark corner of Putin's story... Fascinating, hard-hitting reading." -"Foreign Affairs " "Although Gessen is enough of an outsider to write beautifully clear and eloquent English, she is enough of an insider to convey, accurately, the wild swings of emotions, the atmosphere of mad speculation, the paranoia, and, yes, the hysteria that pervade all political discussion and debate in Moscow today." -"The New York Review of Books" "Illuminating... It is with [the] explosive revelations that Gessen truly excels... an electrifying read from what can only be described as an incredibly brave writer." -"Columbia Journalism Review" r
MASHA GESSEN is a journalist who has written for Slate, the New Republic, the New York Times and other publications. She is the author of several books, including Dead Again, Two Babushkas and Blood Matters: A Journey Along the Genetic Frontier. She lives in Moscow.