Although never a favorite of the first Bush or Clinton administrations, Primakov had a remarkable career, advancing from journalist and academic to the heights of political power: head of Russia's foreign intelligence agency, foreign minister, and then prime minister. He is a modern-day Talleyrand, having succeeded and served in Leonid Brezhnev and Mikhail Gorbachev's Soviet Union and still more prominently in Boris Yeltsin's Russia. Thus his memoir of the last 30 years deserves close attention. The sweep is enormous, but he gives special attention to the Gulf War, his role in the foreign intelligence agency, Chechnya, NATO enlargement, and foreign economic skirmishes with the International Monetary Fund and the Clinton administration, often supplying previously unpublished documentation. A man of the system (albeit not uncritical) and then of the new order (albeit with loyalty to his past), Primakov gives his side of the story with vigor and intelligence-and with a minimum of score-settling, save for Yeltsin's daughter and "the Family" who engineered his ouster from the post of prime minister.
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