The New Tsar
The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin
As the world struggles to confront a bolder Russia, the importance of understanding the formidable and ambitious Vladimir Putin has never been greater. This gripping narrative of Putin's rise to power recounts Putin's origins—from his childhood of abject poverty in Leningrad to his ascent through the ranks of the KGB, and his eventual consolidation of rule in the Kremlin.
On the one hand, Putin's many domestic reforms—from tax cuts to an expansion of property rights—have helped reshape the potential of millions of Russians whose only experience of democracy had been crime, poverty, and instability after the fall of the Soviet Union. On the other, Putin has ushered in a new authoritarianism—unyielding in its brutal repression of dissent and newly assertive politically and militarily in regions like Crimea and the Middle East.
The New Tsar is a staggering achievement, a deeply researched and essential biography of one of the most important and destabilizing world leaders in recent history, a man whose merciless rule has become inextricably bound to Russia's forseeable future.
New York Times reporter Myers has written a timely, richly detailed, if too narrowly focused biography of Vladimir Putin. Putin, a KGB operative, cannily decided to leave the agency during the Soviet collapse in 1991. He ascended to power nine years later, and now controls the vast Russian Federation as tightly as a czar. As the book reveals, his authoritarian, highly nationalistic style and assertive foreign policy are directed toward rebuilding Russian power in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, not reestablishing Soviet ideology. Myers emphasizes the suppression of internal dissent, which includes the Pussy Riot arrests and many theorize whistle-blower Alexander Litvinenko's poisoning. The narrative also covers Putin's moves against the country's oligarchs, such as the imprisonment of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and expropriation of his company, Yukos. Myers concludes with Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. His book appears as tensions between the West and Russia are rapidly rising, involving areas from the Baltic to the Ukraine and escalating to threats of nuclear force. Myers provides little historical context to explain Putin's appeal and the broader Russian disposition. His inside-baseball account, often focused on little-known personalities and behind-the-scenes political machinations, will intrigue readers but leave them with only a shadowy picture of this enigmatic modern-day "tsar."
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