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Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West Hardcover – June 30, 2015

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“An aptly timed and much needed look at the mercurial master of the Kremlin” ―Peter Baker, New York Times

“An erudite and unsettling but convincing argument that the new Russia is a dictatorship 'approved by the majority as long as the going is good,' and if Putin were to vanish today, his successor would make few changes.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Laqueur is grimly convincing in lowering expectations that Russia will become genuinely democratic any time soon. This thorough examination of all aspects of modern Russian society and culture makes an excellent addition to recent literature on Putin-era Russia.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Big-picture analysis is always good, and Walter Laqueur, dean of American Russia watchers, excels at it.” ―James S. Denton, World Affairs

About the Author

WALTER LAQUEUR was the director of the Institute of Contemporary History in London for 30 years. Concurrently, he served as chairman of the International Research Council of CSIS in Washington, DC. He was also a professor at Georgetown University and is the author of more than 25 books including After the Fall (2012) and The Last Days of Europe (2007). He has had articles published in THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, and countless other newspapers worldwide.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (June 30, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250064759
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250064752
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #96,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Review: Walter Laqueur’s Putinism Deconstructs Putin and Russia
By. Jordan Schulte

What is Putinism? Walter Laqueur, who has worked in the field of Soviet studies since 1954, has spent much of the last 15 years since Putin arrived on the scene trying to devise an accurate definition for the West and himself. After a 117 pages of squirming around the complicated nature of the ending of the Soviet Union and the rise of Vladimir Putin, we are given a clearly expressed dictionary.com like definition. “Putinism is state capitalism, a liberal economic policy, but also a great amount of state intervention – almost total interference when important issues are concerned.”

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the first president of the newly named Russian Federation was Boris Yeltsin. Elected by popular vote, Yeltsin preached the need for Russian to transition to a market capitalist driven economy instead of its past socialist economy. After nationwide privatization, Russia was left with a dramatic economic shift. Formerly all property and wealth was held in public hands, but now instead the majority of wealth and property was held by a small number of oligarchs. Yeltsin believed privatization would create new enterprises, but instead Russia was transformed into a plutocracy. In 1999, Yeltsin stepped down after nearly a decade of economic collapse, corruption, and inflation.

As the Yeltsin rule crept closer to its end, oligarchs who ruled the country were afraid that there state would slowly crumble into anarchy. A leading oligarch, Boris Berezovsky believe more so than his fellow oligarchs that this meant the state would either be captured once again by a strong central state apparatus or the military.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book seeks to explain how “Putinism” (the present governing of Russia) was derived from the historical development of the Russian psyche.

Author Walter Laqueur demonstrates that Russians are highly intelligent and intensely intellectual. Their achievements in literature, science, and engineering have astonished the world. Being an immense country bordering on the most populated and commercially active countries of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Russians understand their geographic destiny as a great power. According to Laqueur and others, the Russian psyche includes a “messianic mission” to enlighten the world in some undefined intellectual sense short of physical conquest.

The United States shares many of these characteristics, but Laqueur brings out the profound differences that make it so difficult for Americans and Russians to find common ground. The United States is a New World country taking its cue from the European Enlightenment of democracy and human rights. Russia is an ancient country, taking its cue from the authoritarian tradition it inherited from European Monarchs, Middle Eastern despots, and Asian Emperors.

Laqueur describes Russia’s national character as containing a heavy dose paranoia. Conspiracy theories of ethnic Russians being perpetually threatened by Jews, Western Europeans, Asian, and especially now by Americans (whom Russians see as employing democracy as a cover for global military conquests), is central to Russia’s psyche. Of course, some degree of paranoia is entirely justified, considering how often Russia HAS been victimized by aggressive neighbors who covet its territory.

But if Russia is paranoid, it seems not to be vindictive. Even while being invaded by Napoleon, Russians continued to cherish French culture.
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Format: Hardcover
In a popular TV commercial one person tells some fact to another person and the reply is “everybody knows that” and the second person proceeds to tell the first some unknown (humorous) fact. Putinism by Walter Laqueur reminds me of that commercial. The author provides an account of Russia from the end of the Soviet era to the present with a particular emphasis on the impact of Vladimir Putin on his country. Lacquer is a noted historian and expert on Russia and provides useful insights into that complex country in this work but the information is largely well known. An example is “The Russian people want stability and order more than freedom and democracy.” Much of the book is devoted to topics other than Putin and the ideology that makes up Putinism. Laqueur covers the history of the country from the breakup of the Soviet Union to the present. He includes chapters on the oligarchs, demography, the new national doctrine, foreign policy and the sources of future conflicts. He states that Putin’s power comes from the center, not the democratic left or the ultra-nationalist right. He also states that the Orthodox church is a strong factor in Russia as well as a sense of Eurasian manifest destiny. He also notes that economic inequality is greater in Russia than in any other developed or semi-developed country with some 110 individuals owning 35% of the wealth of the country. The new ideology, he says, comes from the work of Ivan Ilyin and consists of a strong central power and few rights for the non-Russian regions. Putin has made of point of admiring Ilyin and requiring Kremlin associates to read his works. Russian foreign policy has moved more to the South and East and away from the West. A big problem in Russia is the decreasing population that is expected to drop to about 110 million.Read more ›
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