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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 the Hardcover edition.
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 the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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.
People with control over TV and oil are among the enemies of Putin mentioned in the book. The insignificance of journalists who do not appear on TV springs in part from major efforts to keep everybody from knowing who keeps the fires burning in the dark heart of this book. The government of Russia is like a political party that derives strength only form those who support it. This book looks for the weakness in that kind of strength.
President Putin is on the rise as the most powerful man in the world backed by a strenghtneing military, billions of dollars at his disposal, massive fuel resources, and an increasing diplomatic presence in the Middle East and elsewhere.
It is too late for the United States to do anything about this because George Bush looked into Putin's eyes and impossibly
"got a sense of his soul". Then Obama came along and has been MIA from the scene in Middle East and is Barney Fife to Putin's ALPHA DOG.
The only outcome unfortunately is that Russia, lead by Putin, will continue to rise, and will eventually absorb the EU into the future Eurasian Union, and then tomorrow...the world
Sound alarmist? Not really...all you have to do is be able to read.
the news will tell you everything you need to know