The epic tale of the rise to power of Russia's current president - the only complete biography in English - that fully captures his emergence from shrouded obscurity and deprivation to become one of the most consequential and complicated leaders in modern history, by the former New York Times Moscow bureau chief.
In a gripping narrative of Putin's rise to power as Russia's president, Steven Lee Myers recounts Putin's origins - from his childhood of abject poverty in Leningrad to his ascension through the ranks of the KGB and his eventual consolidation of rule. Along the way world events familiar to listeners, such as September 11th and Russia's war in Georgia in 2008, as well as the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, are presented from never-before-seen perspectives.
This audiobook is a grand, staggering achievement and a breathtaking look at one man's rule. On one hand, Putin's many 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 hand, Putin has ushered in a new authoritarianism, unyielding in his brutal repression of revolts and squashing of dissent. Still, he retains widespread support from the Russian public.
The New Tsar is a narrative tour de force, deeply researched and utterly necessary for anyone fascinated by the formidable and ambitious Vladimir Putin but also for those interested in the world and what a newly assertive Russia might mean for the future.
"Combining skilled story-telling, psychological examination, and political investigation, Steven Lee Myers succeeds brilliantly in this biography of Vladimir Putin. Explaining the dangers that Putin's Russia may and does pose, Myers effortlessly and expertly guides the reader through the complexities of the Russian Byzantine governing style and the country's politics and identity. In the end, the book provides one of the most comprehensive answers to a puzzling question: Despite all the changes that Russia has gone through during communism and post-communism, why is it still an empire of the tsar?" (Nina Khrushcheva)
"Such an understanding of Putin's early life and the evolution of his leadership is lacking. [Myers'] methodology is sound and, I believe, the only way to capture such an intimate understanding of Russia's iron man." (Ian Bremmer, author of Superpower)
"Personalities determine history as much as geography, and there is no personality who has had such a pivotal effect on 21st century Europe as much as Vladimir Putin. The New Tsar is a riveting, immensely detailed biography of Putin that explains in full-bodied, almost Shakespearean fashion why he acts the way he does." (Robert D. Kaplan)
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A retelling of facts without much added info
Compare and contrast to Putin's Kleptocracy: The New Tsar is not as fast paced and did make a few good observations not found in other books on Putin, but it also leaves out a few things. Putin's Kleptocracy by Karen Dawisha, on the other hand, is the most well researched investigative journalism out there on Putin, but it's also a one-legged indictment full to the brim with substance, names, and information. Perhaps too much so for the first time reader on Putin.
If reading your first book on Putin, I'd recommend Red Notice by Bill Browder or The Man with a Face by Masha Gessen. Either one is a fascinating introduction to life in Putin's Russia. The New Tsar is informative and balanced but gets four stars because it doesn't quite hit the nail as hard as other reads on the subject. And the narration is good but bland.
- A. M.
Biased on several important topics