Review: two more Putin biographies (“Putin” and “The New Tsar”)

I know what you’re thinking: more of them, J.T.?! Yes. I’m contractually obligated (and fiction research-ly-obligated) to cover them. But I promise I’ll make this quick and relatively painless.

The New Tsar by Steven Lee Myers

The New Tsar was very much old news, at least to me. Myers recounts a number of highly debated and controversial events that took place during Putin’s presidency, including the sinking of the Kursk, the Beslan terror attacks, the Yukos affair, the Georgian war, and the ongoing tensions with Ukraine. Yet I’ve already read about these things, and I am already familiar with the anti-Putin take on them given by Myers and his employer, The New York Times.

I was hoping that the book’s data, plentiful biographical material, and new sources would help create a deeper and more nuanced exploration of Putin and his style of governance. Sadly, it just seems that the same anti-Putin template is again confirmed, and I am left with no greater understanding of Putin than I had before I read the book.

(I will likely give this book a reread and more in-depth review later.)

★ ★

The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin by Steven Lee Myers. Pub. 2015 by Knopf. Hardcover, 592 pages. ISBN13: 9780307961617.

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Putin by Chris Hutchins

While certainly more personal than other Putin biographies, and thankfully less antagonistic, Hutchins’s work is superficial and does not present much new information. If you’ve read Putin’s own First Person/От первого лицо or a good biography like Allen C. Lynch’s Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft, you’re probably familiar with everything in this book.

Putin’s also a little too willing to gloss over the man’s shortcomings. I’m not saying one should focus on shortcomings at the expense of all else, but they should remain an important part of the biography for fairness’s sake.

Still better than Man Without a Face, though.

★ ★

Putin by Chris Hutchins. Pub. 2012 by Matador. Hardcover, 312 pages. ISBN13: 9781780881140.

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And so the search for a(nother) decent Putin biography continues…

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One comment

  1. just realized how there are virtually no English-language Medvedev biographies out there compared to the sheer number of Putin ones.
    no-one cared about the jolly gnome in the West i guess

    Like

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