The Showman: Inside the Invasion That Shook the World and Made a Leader of Volodymyr Zelensky

Morrow. Jan. 2024. 384p. ISBN 9780063307421. $32.99. POL SCI
Time correspondent Shuster has been covering events in Ukraine since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. In doing so, he established close working relationships with Ukraine’s major political leaders, including President Zelensky, and military officials. The author is present on a gut-wrenching visit to the devastated town of Bucha and at many of Zelensky’s diplomatic meetings. He interviews Zelensky, his wife Olena, several political aides, and others in his examination of Zelensky’s life, including his early years in Mongolia, his success as a comedian/producer of television variety shows in Ukraine and Russia, his political awakening after the fall of Crimea, and his election. The opening chapter sets the tone with a gripping, hour-by-hour account of the first day of the invasion. Zelensky sent his family to safety but was determined to remain in Kyiv to help the Ukrainian people and lead—largely from a bunker—the fight against Russia. Shuster devotes many pages to Gen. Zaluzhny’s crafty military strategy and Zelensky’s relentless efforts to obtain money and weaponry from the United States and other western nations.
VERDICT Fascinating. Powerful. Important. This book is an illuminating profile of Zelensky’s courage and an expert study of the fraught relationship between Russia and Ukraine.
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