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The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia

The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia [Kindle Edition]

Angus Roxburgh
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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[A]lively and absorbing study.... [Roxburgh] is especially well placed to tell the story of how the west s early enthusiasm for Putin turned sour. --Luke Harding, Guardian

[Written] with admirable even-handedness and insight...The Strongman is not only political history; it is informed by the author s close acquaintance with many of the prime players...Every chapter of this book is worth reading. --Mary Dejevsky, Independent

A sober assessment of Putin years, illuminated by Angus Roxburgh's first-hand experience and long acquaintance with Russia --Bridget Kendall, BBC diplomatic correspondent

We need an insider to give us some insight into what has really been going on since 1999, when Putin went from unknown to acting president. It is fortunate then that we have Angus Roxburgh... fair, nuanced and well written...His account of the complete mutual incomprehension between his employers, Ketchum, and the Russians they worked with is fascinating. --Sunday Telegraph old Russian hand. [Roxburgh] takes us behind the curtain of the Kremlin press section....he is at his best in a chapter on fraught Georgian-Russian relations, capturing the culpability on all sides. --Stephen Kotkin, TLS

'...marshals new and valuable details about Putin s life and rule.' --Foreign Affairs old Russian hand. [Roxburgh] takes us behind the curtain of the Kremlin press section....he is at his best in a chapter on fraught Georgian-Russian relations, capturing the culpability on all sides. --Stephen Kotkin, TLS

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Russia under Vladimir Putin has proved a prickly partnerfor the West, a far cry from the democratic ally many hoped for when the Soviet Union collapsed. Abroad, he has used Russia's energy might as a foreign policy weapon, while at home he has cracked down on opponents, adamant that only he has the right vision for his country's future.

Former BBC correspondent Angus Roxburgh charts the dramatic fight for Russia'sfuture under Vladimir Putin - how the former KGB man changed from reformer to autocrat, how he sought the West's respect but earned its fear, how he cracked down on his rivals at home and burnished a flamboyant personality cult, one day saving snow leopards or horse-back riding bare chested, the net tongue-lashing Western audiences. Drawing on dozens of exclusive interviews in Russia, where he worked for a time as a Kemlin insider advising Putin on press relations, as well as in the US and Europe, Roxburgh also argues that the West threw away chances to bring Russia in from the cold, by failing to understand its fears and aspirations following the collapse of communism.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If Only the Neo-Cons had not had their way? 13 May 2014
By Jo
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A very readable book which described both internal Russian developments under Putin and foreign relations. In particular there were interesting quotes from the participants of various conferences and one-on-one discussions between western and Russian leaders and from Russian economic policy makers (albeit now all out of favour and office).

The intention of the book seems to have been to convey the message that with more sensitivity to Russian concerns (particular on the part of the Bush administration) things might have been different and Russia might have become a 'responsible' and co-operative member of the 'international community'.

The question which was not raised however throughout the book was that of the possible and in my opinion likely connection between the internal and external developments in Russia. Each was depicted in separate chapters as if Putin, the operator in foreign affairs has no connection with the Putin who, as the book points out is presiding over the descent of Russia into a state of legal nihilism and corruption on a mind-numbing scale. Is it really the case that for instance American intransigence on missile defence in Eastern Europe played more of a role in shaping Russian foreign policy than the type of regime which developed internally Russia or vice-versa could it have been the case that a different relationship of Western governments (actually the Americans) to Russia would have led to Putin retaining his early promise of democratic development? The latter seems unlikely but the matter is never addressed in the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does not dig deep enough 26 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book reads like a long article in a western newspaper. The author could have gone deeper into analysing the intentions and results of Russian leaders. The western politicians are described in too positive a light, whilst to an uneducated reader Russians may be mistaken as bad children who should have known how much candy to eat.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kaa's self delusions over the Bandar-log 19 Aug 2013
By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
More readable than many crime thrillers, this mixture of clear analysis with entertaining anecdotes has an authentic ring, Roxburgh being a former BBC Moscow correspondent and sometime PR advisor to Putin's press secretary.

He acknowledges Putin's initial success in restoring law and order, curtailing the power of the oligarchs who hijacked Russia's rapid adoption of capitalism in the 1990s, stabilising the economy, reducing debt, achieving growth (admittedly with the aid of high Russian oil and gas prices) and even in supporting the Americans in their fight against Afghanistan - perhaps not in itself a good thing.

Roxburgh expands on the depressing recent turn of events as an increasingly authoritarian leader establishes the "vertical of power", appoints cronies to senior positions in key industries, and turns a blind eye to, if not exactly ordering, the liquidation of anyone who dares to criticise corruption in such chilling cases as the shooting of the journalist Anna Politovskaya and the killing in prison of the young lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, "arrested by the very officials he had accused of fraud".

Thought to have accumulated a vast personal fortune, Putin seeks to retain personal majority support as president partly by impressing people with his often stage-managed macho exploits, but also by resorting to ballot-rigging and laws to restrict the freedom of speech, conscience and mass media, "the fundamental elements of a civilised society" which he promised on first coming to power. Opposition is still too fragmented to bring him down, and he can dismiss the disaffected middle classes as the tools of western influence.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars mafia state 8 Dec 2012
By keith.f
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
having just read 'russia -a mafia state' by luke harding of 'the guardian' this was a similar tone although a little more explicit. could have done with a little more detail on Putin's character. tended to stray to many other areas but helped give a bit more information of the vastness of the ex-U.S.S.R.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsory background reading 5 July 2014
By AlgyF
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Though not a few years old, this well written book is enthralling and gives a wonderful insight into Putin.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as much insight as I'd hoped. 11 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Some very good information on Putin post KGB years and certainly sheds light on the make up of the man. Feels a little light on his earlier years pre- and during KGB times, however.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 10 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thorough balanced view from a creditable source - the case is still out on VP (and Roxburgh does not pull any punches) but he's right to show that VP is partly what he's been made by the West.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Much more interesting than expected 3 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I wasn't sure when I bought this but it proved a really good read. Informative but with a light touch.
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