Bookmarks Issue: 

Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the End of Revolution

A-KremlinRisingIt seems like eons have passed since Mother Russia and Uncle Sam had fingers poised on launch buttons in their decades-long game of nuclear one-upmanship. First, there was the push towards perestroika and glasnost under Gorbachev. Then came the ursine bumbling of Yeltsin-era capitalism. If Putin has restored order to Russia with his brand of "managed democracy," it has come at a greater cost to democratic reform than many outsiders realize. As he tries to rebuild his country into an economic and political power, Putin has turned the media into a personal public relations tool, ignored a growing AIDS crisis, and used the criminal justice system to squelch political rivals. The fact that the Russian people have traded freedom for order indicates that Putin is truly a man of his times.
Scribner. 464 pages. $27.50. ISBN: 0743264312

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"It is unrealistic to expect Vladimir Putin to be the new incarnation of Thomas Jefferson, but desire for a boss among his Kremlin coterie stirs memories of Joseph Stalin and should give pause to those who are optimistic about the long-term chances of democracy in Russia." Philip Seib

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Russia may have the leader it deserves. People are more nervous about speaking freely these days, but they look to the future with a little more confidence. The trade-off seems acceptable." William Grimes

Philadelphia Inquirer 4 of 5 Stars
"To their credit, however, Baker and Glasser reject focus on Putin as First Cause of all that happens in Russia. Instead, they offer a panoramic picture of Russian life that helps explain his success." Carlin Romano

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Methodical in its approach, as riveting as a novel in its depiction of modern Russian life, Kremlin Rising is a powerful indictment of Putin’s years as president." Melvin Jules Bukiet

NY Times Book Review 3 of 5 Stars
"[The authors’] American experience contained a danger: a readiness to scrub Russian politics of its contradictions. So they give us a restoration drama in primary colors, a battle between ‘Western-style liberal democracy’ and ‘a budding dictator,’ between democrats and ‘Soviet leftovers.’" Andrew Meier

Critical Summary

This portrait of "the fishy-eyed, single-minded man at the top" (New York Times) takes a thematic approach to Putin’s political leadership. Baker and Glasser, husband-and-wife Moscow bureau chiefs for The Washington Post from 2001 to 2004, scrutinize events from Putin’s arms and oil deals with Iraq to the school siege in Beslan and find that the former KGB functionary has impeded late 20th-century Russia’s democratic progress. If the book veers toward being too black and white, overemphasizing Putin’s role as a strong man, it does so with a backbone of clear prose and solid research (over 200 additional interviews were conducted for the book). The New York Times Book Review claims that Kremlin Rising is "the official record of the Putin era, or as close to one as Western readers are likely to get."