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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome RUSSIAN account of Putin
The strengths of this book is that it is written by a Russian journalist living in Russia and it is up to date. Most accounts of Russian politics, and Putin in particular, are by non-Russian analysts so I was intrigued to see if a Russian account would throw up anything different. Masha Gessen's view that Putin schemed, bullied and manipulated to establish an...
Published on 16 July 2012 by Bill Tell

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good account of Putin
I enjoyed reading this book and felt that it was written very well. Masha provides an interesting background of Putin including his involvement with the KGB, his time as mayor of St Petersburg to his presidency or Russia.

It is diffucult knowing what to believe about Putin as the western media is never going to give the real story. This book being written by a...
Published on 4 April 2012 by Edna85


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome RUSSIAN account of Putin, 16 July 2012
By 
Bill Tell (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
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The strengths of this book is that it is written by a Russian journalist living in Russia and it is up to date. Most accounts of Russian politics, and Putin in particular, are by non-Russian analysts so I was intrigued to see if a Russian account would throw up anything different. Masha Gessen's view that Putin schemed, bullied and manipulated to establish an authoritarian regime with himself at the centre is not new. However, she suggests some interesting insights into Putin's mind-set and the processes through which he was recruited to, and then took control of, the power networks that claimed Russia. Along the way she tells some good stories about people and scams from the chaotic post-soviet period that enabled Putin to rise unseen to the top. She also tells us what it was like to be part of the opposition protests that took place between the Duma and presidential "elections".

This is a journalistic account and Gessen makes it clear from the outset that she is strongly opposed to the Putin regime. It is not an impartial analysis that you could quote for an academic essay but it is very readable and, in the end, quite optimistic. I recommend it to anyone interested in Russian politics.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely interesting, 7 April 2012
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This is one of the best books on modern Russia I have ever read. Masha Gessen follows the mysterious background of Vladimir Putin, Russia's strong man, and discovers many unknown facts - and most of them rather frightening ones. It's a must to read for everyone who takes an active interest in Russia. But the book is so well written it can also be read by people who just want to generally know what's going on in world politics.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very informative, 5 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladmir Putin (Kindle Edition)
If you are in any way a Putin admirer then best you don't read this book. I had learned to totally dislike and mistrust Putin before reading this book, but did not feeel I knew that much about him. Books such as Putin's Russia by Lilia Shevtsova only seemed to skim the surface as I suspect she was very much looking in from the outside in the same way that most western authors/journalists/observers would be doing. However, with this book I have the strong feeling that it is written by someone with a real understanding of what is going on as only a national of the country can do.

Gessen is clearly a skilled journalist who, for me, has clearly described what she sees and feels in no uncertain terms and I finally feel I have got to know Vladimir Putin. He's a very dangerous and very unlikeable animal.

There is, however, one aspect of modern Russian life I still am not clear about and that is whether the inner workings of the Kremlin are still pulling all the strings or not. I feel that there are some bodies behind Putin who have, as it were, simply unleashed him for him to do as he wishes.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, 30 April 2012
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Reading this extraordinary book I kept thinking of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Bertolt Brecht's recasting of Hitler as a Chicago greengrocer and gangster. Putin as here depicted has the same unswerving greed, obsessive ambition and total banality. He has absolutely no shame.

Everyone with the remotest interest in politics, Russia or just the future of the world should read this book. For years the media in the West have shut their eyes to the true nature of Mr Putin's Russia. Liberal opinion has sort of assumed that he was entitled to the benefit of the doubt - long after there was any doubt to have the benefit of - from decades of practice in giving the benefit of the doubt to the Soviet Union. For years it was only some far-right-wingers who, to their credit, noticed and wrote about the enormity of what was being inflicted on the Russian people.

This includes theft on a titanic scale, both of money and elections, the calculated destruction of democratic structures and the rule of law, and the murder of Russian citizens when short-term political considerations suggest it. It is all dispassionately set out here.

As an account of Mr Putin's gruesome career it is hard to fault this book. For a start it is beautifully written. This is not just in the sense that it is elegant and cliché-free and reads as compellingly as a novel, but, more importantly, in that Ms Gessen manages to get across complex matters clearly and succinctly - and some of the shenanigans by which various enormous sums of money reached various back pockets were complex.

She is also fair. She obviously loathes her subject, but she attributes particular atrocities to him only where there is clear evidence. She also maintains a proper distance from some of the less wholesome opponents of the regime, whom she has nevertheless grilled as part of her research.

Given the life expectancy of articulate opponents of Mr Putin, who tend if not sent to the labour camps like Khodarkhovsky to get poisoned or gunned down like Politovskaya, Ms Gessen is also enormously brave. She did not retire to the West to research in a library, she stayed in Russia and she deserves our deep respect for that alone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read, 29 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladmir Putin (Kindle Edition)
This was a great read telling me the background to the rise to power of one of the most powerful men in the world. I found out a great deal of what I did not know about the political situation in Russia and how a vitual unknown could be promoted to a position he was then able to retain.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good account of Putin, 4 April 2012
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I enjoyed reading this book and felt that it was written very well. Masha provides an interesting background of Putin including his involvement with the KGB, his time as mayor of St Petersburg to his presidency or Russia.

It is diffucult knowing what to believe about Putin as the western media is never going to give the real story. This book being written by a Russian who has lived there during Putin's reign makes the book seem more believable than what western media would. Parts of it I found biase as the writer is anti-Putin, so as with other stories you are never going to get the full truth. All in all, though, I found the book to be very open and thought provoking and a good insight into how many Russians feel about the Putin.

It is very up to date and includes thoughts about the most recent election held in Russia which caused many protests within Moscow and St Petersburg which Masha talks about being involved in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing read, 18 May 2015
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If you are remotely interested in today's Russia, this is the book for you. I couldn't put it down; Putin is depicted as a neurotic, power-driven megalomaniac determined to keep Russians in thrall to his obsessive power. Any Western leader would love to have a mite of his 85% approval rating. Gessen explains how Putin came to power from obscurity to thrust Russia back into the consciousness of the West; how he poses with his bodyguards to portray a machismo which is not obvious from his (lack of) physical stature; drags his guards late at night to play ice hockey and even altering his facial appearance through surgery to negate his ageing. This dangerous man uses his ex-KGB connections to further his image of Russia to the rest of the world and Gesson cites many compelling examples of this activity. A must-read written in an accessible way with the author's strength being she is a local journalist with huge insight. I loved it and recommend it unreservedly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read in turbulent times, 22 Jun. 2014
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An excellent but scary book. It should be read by anyone who has an interest in understanding Russia of today, and who at times is struggling with understanding the rationale behind some of the actions of Russia/Vladimir Putin. Things fall into place with a brutal logic. Not the least the current activities in Crimea/Ukraine. Unfortunately the book makes it hard to be an optimist about Russia.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch this man!, 13 May 2012
By 
Emile Zola "Leza" (East Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladmir Putin (Kindle Edition)
Ordered from Amazon. Well written, intriguing, very revealing, opens your eyes, makes you think, takes you behind that expressionless stare. Whose pulling his strings?!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - very revealing, 23 April 2014
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This review is from: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladmir Putin (Kindle Edition)
This is a very interesting book which gives good insight into Mr Putin's mind and the experiences that have shaped him and motivate him now that he is in power. Well worth reading at the moment, as he looks to expand Russia's borders again. Highly recommended.
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