All the Kremlin's Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin

PublicAffairs. Sept. 2016. 384p. notes. index. ISBN 9781610397391. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781610397407. POL SCI
OrangeReviewStarZygar is a highly experienced journalist associated with Russia's disappearing independent media, and his book provides a detailed chronicle of Vladimir Putin's rule. The author depicts an unusual authoritarian governing style reconciling Putin's absolute power with a varied cavalcade of chief advisors. At his best, Zygar interprets intersecting webs of legal and political power wielded by shifting loyalties, tactics, and agendas. For some, such as Nikolai Patrushev, the former director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), ties to Putin may be redeemed in prosperous political longevity. The more common fate shared by many with the "tandem" president and "liberal" Dmitry Medvedev express sporadic conflict and political humiliation. Episodic events such as the annexation of Crimea, war in Chechnya, and the oppositional Bolotnaya mass protest are described in detail. Putin's unpredictability becomes mired in assumptions contrary to Western thinking. The content is well explained and consistently plausible, but in depending on extensive personal interviews, some accounts cannot be confirmed. Far less plausible are prospects for any "reset" in Russian-American relations.
VERDICT This excellent book contains a continuous account of Putin's years in power seasoned with details that are poorly known to most readers, if known at all.
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