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The Man without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin Paperback – 3 Jan 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Granta (3 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847084230
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847084231
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"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

Bold, detailed, and eloquent. --'Paperback of the Year', Independent on Sunday

About the Author

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.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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