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Putin's Labyrinth: Spies, Murder, and the Dark Heart of the New Russia Paperback – April 21, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In this uninspired look at recent Russian politics under Vladimir Putin, author and journalist LeVine (The Oil and the Glory) examines the murders of several key opposition figures, including courageous Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya and long-time dissenter (and London exile) Alexander Litvinenko. LeVine provides ample background on Putin's rise to power, but fails to shed light on the famously authoritarian ruler's mindset; it's the kind of failure that's repeated throughout. More successful is his take on the Nord-Ost catastrophe, in which Chechen rebels held hostage an audience of more than a hundred attending a popular musical; the Kremlin's response was to release a cloud of fentanyl, meant to cause everyone inside to "fall safely asleep." Three survived, and LeVine's interviews make his reconstruction of the events truly chilling. Unfortunately, LeVine tends to insert himself into his accounts often and inappropriately (he begins his profile of Politkovskaya, "I never met the journalist Anna Politkovskaya"), and his prose is marred by cliché, bad humor and stabs of sentimentality. Though an impressive reporter, LeVine is a frustrating writer, too often putting himself in the way of a good story.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Journalist LeVine tracked the Caspian Sea region’s post–Soviet Union oil and gas boom in The Oil and the Glory (2007) and now turns his attention to a different sort of power source, Vladimir Putin. LeVine sets the stage by assessing Russia’s historic tolerance for tyrants and sanctioned “murder and mayhem,” then launches his portrait of Putin as “the archetypal man from nowhere” who proves to be exceedingly shrewd and ruthless. LeVine documents the rise in “state-sponsored assassinations” of Putin’s critics, sharply analyzing the shooting of the courageous journalist Anna Politkovskaya on Putin’s birthday and the nuclear poisoning of the former KGB officer and defector Alexander Litvinenko. Throughout this hot-off-the-presses exposé, LeVine presents vivid and compelling profiles of knowledgeable “intended victims” brave enough to talk about Putin’s immense ambition and “pragmatism, Russian style.” With fresh insights into the Chechen wars and Putin’s postpresidency plans, LeVine’s important take on the all-too-real machinations and bloodthirstiness from which espionage thrillers are made is both unnerving and intriguing. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The author insinuates that murder and mayhem may be in the "Russian DNA" itself due to their prior history of invasion, tyranny, and dictatorships. I believe there is some truth (symbolically, psychologically, and litterally), in this statement.
In addition, the author seems to focus more on the "Labyrinth" portion than on Vladimir himself. Mr. Putin is of course, former KGB (FSB), and his entire formative years were spent in the Soviet Intelligence community where he, constantly learned to search and weed out any dissenters, be it against himself, or...the "Apparatchik." Alexander Litviinenko (former KGB agent) and Anna Politkovskaya (Russian journalist), are sad and unfortunate reminders of this truth.
The author quotes an old KGB defector who points to a very important difference in Putin's Russia compared to the prior Soviet Union. Oleg Gordievsky told the author: "The KGB without the Communist Party is a gang of gangsters." That is not to say that, the KGB was not always "a gang", but without the "Central Point" the participants need answer to no one, or no thing.
The author seems to rightly insinuate that Vladimir Putin has taken on a "symbiotic relationship" between the State (himself), and that of numerous criminal elements that work well together in maintaining the present status quo. The State controls the political arena, oil shipments, natural resources, and...the military. The criminal elements...the social needs and demands.
In reading this book, I could not help but see many growing parallels to the on-going events in the country of Mexico, but without a prresent day "Putin" or..."Central Point."
This is agood book, and goes into a great detail regarding many of the tragic events surrounding those people who tried to stand up for change. Realistically however, it appears "that type of change" is many years away.
The Oprichniki is still very much alive and well in Russia. The perpetrators no longer need carry around dog's heads and brooms upon their horse sadles to symbolize total devotion to "sweeping away sedition." They now ride in Mercedes and make no mistake, their rabid devotion to gaining money, economic wealth, and acknowledgement as a world power is no less important!
What ever he may be...Putin is witty, intelligent, frightning, dangerous, impatient, and above all...Russian.
Author LeVine gives the same in-depth treat to two other victims of Russian murder: Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov and crusading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. In each case - both unsolved - LeVine contends that it is Russian President Vladimir Putin who "is responsible because...he created the climate of impunity in which someone decided [they] could die. Putin's rule protects those who are inside the system or at least accept it. Outsiders cannot expect the same protection."
That passage reflects the main tenet of the book. LeVine sets out his conclusion quite forcefully in the book's introduction. Noting what he has assembled for the reader in the pages that follow, he states that "the shared testimony paints a disturbing picture of assassination and other brutality, and leaves the unmistakable impression that the Russian state under Putin is at least partially responsible."
Most recent customer reviews
Nothing in the book you won't find in better sources.