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Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (Geopolitics in the 21st Century) Paperback – February 2, 2015
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"Remember the unverified "dossier" assembled by a shadowy foreign intelligence veteran who alleged all manner of nefarious, kinky and compromising ties between Donald Trump and Russia? Well, now the Trump team has its own dossier on Russian President Vladimir Putin. It's better sourced, convincingly written, damning in its conclusions - and its author is scheduled to start working at the White House." - Washington Post As experienced students of modern Russia, Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy are exceptionally well qualified to explain the experiences and influences which shaped the mind of Vladimir Putin... If you want to begin to understand Russia today, read this book." - Sir John Scarlett, former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) "Veteran Russia watchers Hill and Gaddy bring high-level expertise to bear on the enigma of Vladimir Putin in this illuminating study... [It] combines enough historical background and contemporary analysis for a graduate-level seminar along with an accessible writing style that won't deter more casual readers." -Publishers Weekly "Let it be stated unambiguously at the outset: this book is a tour de force." -Political Studies Review
About the Author
Fiona Hill is director of the Center on the United States and Europe and a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings.
Clifford G. Gaddy is a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings. Hill and Gaddy are coauthors of The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold (Brookings, 2003).
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The author’s convincingly debunk some of the often-repeated myths and assumptions about Putin’s career and management style. For example, many commentators have said that Putin’s sudden appearance in Moscow in 1996 is simply a unresolvable mystery. The authors document that, in fact, Putin was brought to Moscow by Alexei Kudrin, his colleague in the St. Petersburg Mayor’s Office, who was summoned to Moscow by Anatoly Chubais to help control the oligarchs who were often dictating terms to the Kremlin. The author’s also effectively disprove the charges that Putin that Putin has accumulated immense wealth and that he is simply an opportunist who lacks strategic planning skills, showing that Putin has clear goals and carefully developed plans to achieve them.
The book’s organizational principle, which analyzes Mr. Putin through the prism of six distinct “identities” sometimes seems a bit contrived—but the authors do acknowledge that the scheme is arbitrary. A more serious shortcoming, I think, is the unexamined assumption that Putin is simply wrong about the West and that because of his unfamiliarity with Western values and traditions he misreads our entirely benign efforts to promote democracy and free markets abroad. The authors claim that it is Putin's unfamiliarity with the West that leads him to conclude that the West has “set out to overturn his regime in a color revolution.” While it is true that Putin shares the paranoia that seems at times to be a national Russian trait, it is not at all clear that regime change in Russia is not a deliberate goal of the West, just as it is not at all clear that the decision of the US in 2001 to withdraw from the ABM treaty and install missiles in Europe was not intended to neutralize Russia’s nuclear deterrent.
Quibbles aside, Mr. Putin is an intelligent and meticulously documented analysis of what has gone wrong in the relationship between Russia and the West in the last fifteen years--and a valuable guide to policy makers as they try to understand and re-engage constructively with Mr. Putin’s Russia.
The book is a bit too academic and too dry for its subject. Very often it is hard to catch authors intentions. Sometimes it looks like they strive to be impartial, next page they speak as they were Putin himself, next they criticize him, but rather cautiously.
For me the main thing about Putin is that he is the Man of the Past. The book confirms my view, but without any attempt of moral judgment. I think it would be quite appropriate in this case