The Man without a Face

  • by Masha Gessen
  • Narrated by Justine Eyre
  • 10 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress, making his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.
Handpicked as a successor by the “family” surrounding an ailing and increasingly unpopular Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin seemed like the perfect choice for the oligarchy to shape according to its own designs. Suddenly the boy who had stood in the shadows, dreaming of ruling the world, was a public figure, and his popularity soared. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see the progressive leader of their dreams, even as he seized control of the media, sent political rivals and critics into exile or to the grave, and smashed the country’s fragile electoral system, concentrating power in the hands of his cronies.
As a journalist living in Moscow, Masha Gessen experienced this history firsthand, and for The Man Without a Face she has drawn on information and sources no other writer has tapped. Her account of how a faceless man maneuvered his way into absolute - and absolutely corrupt - power has the makings of a classic of narrative nonfiction.


What the Critics Say

“A thorough account…[Gessen] has written something rare: an accessible book about an unreachable man.” (New York Times Book Review on Perfect Rigor)
“Despite news reports, Putin doesn’t have quite the notoriety he deserves in the West; Gessen should push him to the forefront.” (Library Journal)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

very good points, but bias is evident

Masha Gessen is right on with her description of Vladimir Putin and his Regime as a gang of thugs. Hurray for her publicizing this important message which still hasn't gotten through to people at some institutions (IMF, EBRD, UN, World Bank, etc.).

My criticism is that she describes certain oligarchs (Berezovsky, Gusinsky, Khodorkovsky) as being honest businessmen who were wrongfully oppressed. Let's be honest - these oligarchs are no better than Putin himself.

John Christmas, author of "Democracy Society"
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- John

Poor performance mars listening experience

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I would much rather have read the book. Listening was painful, due to the really terrible performance. The reader did not know Russian, and got almost every single name wrong, which was terribly distracting. She also read all the quotes in an insulting Boris & Natasha accent that set my teeth on edge.For a book like this you MUST have someone who is familiar with the subject matter and who speaks Russian, or knows it well enough to pronounce "Starovoitova" correctly.I spent a lot of time in Russia and know the events described quite well. I like and respect Masha Gessen, and think the book was well written and well researched. But I almost could not finish it given the performance.It did a real disservice to the text.I think it would be worth rerecording, actually.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Man without a Face?

I loved the description of the Nord-Ost theater siege, an event I lived through from afar. I was very sad, but perversely satisfied, to learn that Masha's research and interpretation, jibed with my own.

Would you be willing to try another one of Justine Eyre’s performances?


If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Yes, with pleasure, providing the actors knew what they were doing.

Any additional comments?

The performance ruined the book for me. I will have to buy it on Kindle to be able to enjoy it. I drive quite a bit cross country, and was looking forward to listening to this book on the way. It was such a disappointment.

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- Jean MacKenzie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-01-2012
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.