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Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin Hardcover – February 1, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Brookings Institution senior fellows and veteran Russia watchers Hill and Gaddy (The Siberian Curse) bring high-level expertise to bear on the enigma of Vladimir Putin in this illuminating study." -- Publishers Weekly

Review

“Of the many biographies of Vladimir Putin that have appeared in recent years, this one is the most useful, particularly to foreign-policy makers, many of whom must work with a crude or muddled understanding of what makes the Russian leader tick.” -- Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

“There's Mr. Putin, by Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy. Insightful.”–- Vice President Joseph Biden in Rolling Stone

"[T]his is not just another Putin biography. It is a psychological portrait, a handbook providing sometimes speculative but well-informed answers to the question that has trailed the ex-KGB colonel from St Petersburg ever since he stepped out of the shadows and on to the international stage when he became Russia’s prime minister in 1999: “Who is Mr Putin?” -- Neil Buckley, Financial Times

"Since Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin, Russia-watchers have revisited the perennial puzzle of 'Who is Mr. Putin?'. Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, scholars at the Brookings Institution, have produced the most illuminating study so far…" -- Angela Stent, Georgetown University, in Survival

"With so many one-dimensional portraits of the Russian leader, the new offering by Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy is a refreshing change of pace.” -- Nikolas Gvosdev, Naval War College, in The National Interest.

“Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin is a readable and informed portrait, painted by two students of Russian history who had, at various times in their careers, a front-row view.” -- David Hearst, The Guardian

“Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy’s new book Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin… is a smart and thoughtful piece of work.” -- Ivan Krastev, Chairman, Centre for Liberal Studies

“According to this intriguing book, Mr Putin’s success can be ascribed to a series of transformations in which he has posed, first as a he-man, then as a sportsman or military man, with appropriate costumes for each.” -- The Economist

Advance Praise

"In this well-written and genuinely entertaining volume, Hill and Gaddy take us behind the theatrics and the rumors to give us a clear and intriguing view of the man himself. This book is mandatory reading for the president and his advisers." -- Robert Kagan, author of The World America Made

"Hill and Gaddy illuminate not only the recent past but offer a tantalizing glimpse of what the future may hold." -- John McLaughlin, former Deputy Director of U.S. Central Intelligence.

"Theirs is a tough analysis. Not everyone will agree with every aspect. But, if you want to begin to understand Russia today, read this book." -- Sir John Scarlett, former Chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)

"A meticulous psychological portrait of Vladimir Putin and of the highly personalized state he has molded. How Vladimir Putin sees himself is key to how his system works, but, after twelve years of Putin Power, the nation and the people he leads have changed while Putin himself has not. Can Putin reinvent himself? Hill and Gaddy say Russia's new urban middle class wants more than a 'political performance artist."-- Jill Dougherty, former Moscow Bureau Chief, CNN
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press; 1st edition (February 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815723768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815723769
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about Russia, I thought this book was an excellent guide to understanding Putin's style of government. He came out of nowhere to become the president of a country on the verge of collapse and is now extremely well-known throughout the world, but no one has any idea where he came from. This book clearly explained the logic behind his policies, and even made him sympathetic, in spite of the familiar gangster image that Americans are most familiar with. This was well-written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A highly readable work and a very useful addition to the literature on Putin and Putinism. The multiple identities approach was a brilliant innovation, for Putin is a complex character who cannot be examined using a single lens. That said, one could no doubt comb even what little we have in the way of facts about earlier periods of his life to find additional identities - The Loyalist, for example. Of special note is the discussion of Putin having been Absent at the Revolution - having missed out on the events and atmospherics of Perestroyka, and how that made him different from other Russian politicians.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book one can enjoy reading several times. As a person who eye-witnessed political and economic changes of the 1990s and 2000s, I found the book more about the recent history of the Russian political system than the celebrity president. No doubt, the authors' retrospective analysis helps understand Mr. Putin's views, values, and vision for Russia. And these are not unique to the Russian president alone. Operative in the Kremlin is a "time-machine" book. It is both serious and fun to read. I would recommend the book to Russian students who study history, political science, international affairs, or economics.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Based on service in Moscow '85 - '86 I was invited to join 50th reunion panel on Russia today and future. This book was superb background. I also noted that another member of the panel relied on this book because of its superior documentation.
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Format: Hardcover
The book paints a compelling portrait of Vladimir Putin's ever-changing and multi-faceted character that has allowed him to remain at the helm of the Russian ship of state for more than a dozen years.

The book explores several distinct identities used by Putin. As the History Man, Putin attempts to use the sweep of Russian history to construct a mostly artificial cultural and nationalist identity for modern Russians. He has borrowed extensively from both Soviet and Tsarist Russia to concoct this image of Russia today. The Survivalist in Putin, originating in the hardships of WWII (although before his birth, Putin lost a brother in the siege of Leningrad), has led him to build up the world's most extensive strategic reserves to tide Russia over in a crisis. Finally, Putin's personal governing strategy reflects his career as a KGB Case Officer. Putin prefers to work behind the scenes, utilizing personal connections to apply pressure to advance his agenda, rather than pursuing his policies in the public forum.

Putin's combined identities have led him to construct a highly unique system, in which the government is a ladder, with him at the top. Oligarchs are free to amass personal wealth as long as they provide some necessary service to the Russian state. The government (Putin) maintains control through a system of quasi-blackmail and personal interaction. The Russian people, by and large, are not consulted.

Putin's political system, as portrayed in Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, will almost certainly not survive Putin himself. The big question is what happens next.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Yes the Cold War is over. Yes the Soviet Union is gone, and so are its Communist icons. Or are they? This is about as close a look as you can get into the New Old Kremlin - - - particularly of Putin himself. In historical hindsight, Putin may be viewed as the last of a generation of former Soviets to rule in a non-Soviet Russia. This story still reeks of Party politics, insider cliques, with a pervading presence of Russian history from Nevskii to Stolypin and more. To get that deep, almost personal look at Mr. Putin and the world he reigns over, this book is the best out there.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A scholarly approach so somewhat dry.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good "text book" read. Fiona goes in to a lot of detail about Mr. Putin's history, and the history of Russia that shapes who he is today, and the persona he projects vs who he really is.
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