Of the many biographies of Vladimir Putin that have appeared in recent years, this one is the most useful, particularly to foreign-policy makers, many of whom must work with a crude or muddled understanding of what makes the Russian leader tick. Hill and Gaddy paint him as a composite of many identities, including a statist bent on refurbishing Russian powers, a careful student and clever manipulator of Russian history, a “survivalist” preoccupied with girding for the worst-case eventuality, and an intelligence “case worker” who recruits, controls, and uses people. These identities melded well enough to satisfy the post-1990s angst of Russia’s political elite and paved the way for “Russia, Inc.,” a shrouded, imperious court that has commandeered the state’s formal institutions and which Putin leads as a combination of chief executive and tsar. But, the authors argue, Putin’s vision is endangered: his identities no longer mesh but instead clash, and Russia’s emerging new middle class has come to disdain what he has wrought. Something has to give.
In This Review
In This Review
Most Read Articles
Why the Strait of Hormuz Is Still the World’s Most Important Chokepoint
And Why the United States Should Guarantee Its Security
When Stalin Faced Hitler
Who Fooled Whom?
Trump’s Incendiary Rhetoric Is Only Accelerating Immigration
The Crisis at the Border Is of Washington’s Own Making
How America Lost Faith in Expertise
And Why That's a Giant Problem
Greece’s New Groove
Why Athens Is No Longer Europe’s Black Sheep