Putin and the Return of History: How the Kremlin Rekindled the Cold War

Bloomsbury Continuum. Mar. 2024. 368p. ISBN 9781399409865. $35. HIST
Former BBC correspondent Sixsmith (The Russia Conundrum), with the help of historian son, Daniel Sixsmith (coauthor, The War of Nerves), analyze the history of Russia and its current war against Ukraine. The authors argue that the key factor is Putin’s desire to wield the iron fist of centralized power, which is the ideological opposite of Western democracy. They assert that it’s a divide Putin is keen to maintain. Their book, which takes a scholarly tone at times, discusses Ukraine’s longtime wish to join the EU and Russia’s longtime rally against Ukraine’s attempts to join the NATO military alliance. The authors also point to how Putin witnessed the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse with disdain and how undoing its damage appears to be his main political goal. A key step for him is the denial of Ukraine autonomy to begin the reunification of Soviet Russia. The authors portray Putin as someone dedicated to forcibly rewriting historical aspects that are not to his liking.
VERDICT A critical profile of Putin’s worldview. Thematically similar to Mikhail Zygar’s War and Punishment, this book focuses on Putin’s career in the Russian government.
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