The Man Without A Face

The Man Without A Face

The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

Book - 2012
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The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low- level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress and made his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.

Handpicked as a successor by the "family" surrounding an ailing and increasingly unpopular Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin seemed like a perfect choice for the oligarchy to shape according to its own designs. Suddenly the boy who had stood in the shadows, dreaming of ruling the world, was a public figure, and his popularity soared. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see the progressive leader of their dreams, even as he seized control of media, sent political rivals and critics into exile or to the grave, and smashed the country's fragile electoral system, concentrating power in the hands of his cronies.

As a journalist living in Moscow, Masha Gessen experienced this history firsthand, and for The Man Without a Face she has drawn on information and sources no other writer has tapped. Her account of how a "faceless" man maneuvered his way into absolute-and absolutely corrupt-power has the makings of a classic of narrative nonfiction.

Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, c2012.
ISBN: 9781594488429
Characteristics: 314 p. ;,24 cm.


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Feb 11, 2017

For me and I suspect for many others, the timeliness of reading this book right now is important. Masha Gessen was a leading professional journalist in Russia and demonstrates her credibility with an extensive notes section and index. She talks about Putin's approach to change and his devotion to the KGB and then FSB. Bottom line is he's a guy who likes to work behind the scenes planning and managing political outcomes rather than being in the spotlight himself. She does a great job of portraying the times and showing in detail who were some of the key movers and shakers and how Putin did or didn't mix with them. This author lost friends who were also professionals, especially in journalism, and describes in detail how various deaths occurred through a myriad methods -- poisoning, shooting, mass killings and more. If you think that Putin is "just a guy trying to look out for his country", like one of my relatives thinks, then think again! He is a monster sociopath who's been bleeding the country of billions of dollars.

Now here's the important part -- think of him working with a fellow pathological narcissist, Donald Trump, and you have a very frightening combination. Both in the instance if they work together to exploit millions of people for their own wealth, and in the instance that if they clash, it can be explosive. Because both of them are narcissists who believe that they and they alone are correct about everything, that they will tolerate no dissent from others, they are vindictive, and when challenged, are instantly explosive. Also they both think they're smarter than they are. Read this book.

multcolib_susannel Dec 31, 2016

Seen though the dispassionate journalist eyes of Masha Gessen, Vladimir Putin becomes a man who didn't just 'rise' to power- he manipulated it.

Aug 04, 2014

An excellent subject for a book, but this casts little insight on the man who has emerged as a Russian adversary for the 21st century. It feels more like a newspaper article blown up to book length. Gessen recently wrote a book about Pussy Riot, which is better.

Jul 31, 2014

Very clearly subjective book – anti Putin. If anyone is interested in all the squabbles within the Russian political struggle - this is a right book to read. There are So many names and persons who somehow flashed throughout the book, that for a reader who is far from the political
life in Russia – this book would be just boring and not interesting. Feels great hostility toward Putin, based on a personal author’s views.

Jul 03, 2014

The writing included a little too much personal opinion for my taste. While I find Russian history fascinating, by almost halfway I hadn't really learned much about Putin yet.
I got the feeling that the entire book is supposition. There are facts but how they pertain to Putin is entirely opinion. It reads like a blog, a well done one, but still one persons opinion on how things were/are. Well educated guesses but still guesses. Some of it can come across as a bit conspiracy theory.
And the conclusion that Russia hasn't changed as much as the West thought is entirely unsurprising.

Jul 21, 2013

The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin --- by Masha Gessen. Without a doubt, Masha can certainly write well and assemble a book about a subject as interesting as he is ominous. Moscow born citizen of both Russia and the United States, she has worked as the director of the Russian service of Radio Liberty as well as being a contributor to a variety of American publications. She has also contributed to a variety of Russsian media outlets. She writes most compellingly in a book that refuses to be put down, something rare in a work of non-fiction. Gessen has spent much timed in Russia, especially during the ascendency of Mister Putin. She pulls no punches letting her readership know exactly where she stands when it comes to this man without a face. Let’s see, where’s my list: thug, corrupt, deliberately intimidating, dictatorial, antidemocratic, coarse, dishonest, double dealing, vain, paranoid, deceitful, resentful, etc. This dictator now runs a country where political opponents can expect substantially abbreviated lives, both political and real. Dissidents can expect to be threatened, assaulted, shot, poisoned or, or most infamously in the case of Alexander Litvinenko, meet their death in exile in London, poisoned, novelly enough, with polonium, an extremely radioactive element that causes an excruciating, slow death. This book is not a biography of VP, the man who would dial Russia back to the good (bad) old days of the Soviet Union. But it does include enough of his personal background to shine light on why this man promises most infamously to “wipe them out in the toilets”. The bottom line in all of this might well be “Would you buy a used Lada from this man?” How about a used U(SS)R? Features an excellent set of notes.

Aug 22, 2012

This is an indispensable book for anyone interested in President Putin. Like the late Anna Politkosvskaya’s Putin’s Russia, it is a venom-dipped indictment of the Russian president based on solid journalism, but if you were only to read one book, this is the one to read, as Ms. Gessen covers the whole of Putin’s life, while Ms. Politkovskaya deals only with Putin’s first years as president. If Ms. Gessen’s sources are correct, President Putin never should have come to the world’s attention at all. He was likely guilty of massive malversation as head of the committee for external relations when he still worked for the mayor of St. Petersburg. In a properly functioning system, he would have been fired and jailed for his activities. She also uncovers evidence that strongly suggests when President Gorbachev was temporarily overthrown in an abortive coup, Putin was on the side of the conspirators.
Unfortunately, in a diatribe like this, any positive achievements of Putin tend to get overlooked. There is no mention of the introduction of a flat tax, widely emulated since by other Eastern European countries, or of the ruble being made fully convertible against the other world currencies, something the People’s Republic of China still has not been able to do with their currency. The book’s biggest lack, as with the author’s earlier Perfect Rigor, is the total absence of photographs. She brings to our attention good, conscientious Russians like Marina Salye and Sergei Magnitsky, who tried to expose Putin, but we have no idea what these remarkable people look like.

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