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The Best Books About Vladimir Putin

“What are the best books about Vladimir Putin?” We looked at 38 of the top Vladimir Putin books, aggregating and ranking them so we could answer that very question!

The top 8 titles, all appearing on 2 or more “Best Vladimir Putin” book lists, are ranked below by how many lists they appear on. The remaining 25+ titles, as well as the lists we used are in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



Top 8 Books About Vladimir Putin



8 .) All the Kremlin’s Men written by Mikhail Zygar

	All the Kremlin’s Men

Lists It Appears On:

  • Publishers Weekly
  • Time

Charting the transformation of Vladimir Putin from a passionate fan of the West and a liberal reformer into a hurt and introverted outcast, All the Kremlin’s Men is a historical detective story, full of intrigue and conspiracy. This is the story of the political battles that have taken place in the court of Vladimir Putin since his rise to power, and a chronicle of friendship and hatred between the Russian leader and his foreign partners and opponents. Russia’s most prominent independent journalist Mikhail Zygar has had unprecedented access to people who are either currently or were formerly allied with Putin, but have only now agreed to reveal their impressions of the powerful president and his circle of power. Zygar’s in-depth interviews include Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, former finance minister Alexei Kudrin, former Kremlin chief of staff Alexander Voloshin, former mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov, former presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, former mresidents of Ukraine and Georgia Viktor Yushchenko and Mikhail Saakashvili, and many other key Russian and Western politicians and diplomats. For many people from Putin’s closest circle, it was the first time they could tell their stories. Each chapter has a main character, who gives an insight into the origins of Vladimir Putin’s transformation. Cumulatively, All the Kremlin’s Men explains to the English-speaking audience what has happened to Russia, what the role of the West is in its destiny, and how this destiny could play out going forward. It is a delicious portrait of the strangeness of modern Russia, a country swirling with intrigue and paranoia, peppered with fateful missteps and confusion, and the brooding, volatile, magnificently unpredictable figure of Vladimir Putin.



7 .) First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait written by Vladimir Putin, Nataliya Gevorkyan, Natalya Timakova, Andrei Kolesnikov

	First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait

Lists It Appears On:

  • Russia Direct
  • The Guardian

First Person is an intimate, candid portrait of the man who holds the future of Russia in his grip. An extraordinary compilation of over 24 hours of in-depth interviews and remarkable photographs, it delves deep into Putin’s KGB past and explores his meteoric rise to power. No Russian leader has ever subjected himself to this kind of public examination of his life and views. Both as a spy and as a virtual political unknown until selected by Boris Yeltsin to be Prime Minister, Putin has been regarded as man of mystery. Now, the curtain lifts to reveal a remarkable life of struggles and successes. Putin’s life story is of major importance to the world.



6 .) Fragile Empire written by Ben Judah

	Fragile Empire

Lists It Appears On:

  • The Guardian
  • Time

From Kaliningrad on the Baltic to the Russian Far East, journalist Ben Judah has travelled throughout Russia and the former Soviet republics, conducting extensive interviews with President Vladimir Putin’s friends, foes, and colleagues, government officials, business tycoons, mobsters, and ordinary Russian citizens. Fragile Empire is the fruit of Judah’s thorough research: a probing assessment of Putin’s rise to power and what it has meant for Russia and her people. Despite a propaganda program intent on maintaining the cliché of stability, Putin’s regime was suddenly confronted in December 2011 by a highly public protest movement that told a different side of the story. Judah argues that Putinism has brought economic growth to Russia but also weaker institutions, and this contradiction leads to instability. The author explores both Putin’s successes and his failed promises, taking into account the impact of a new middle class and a new generation, the Internet, social activism, and globalization on the president’s impending leadership crisis. Can Russia avoid the crisis of Putinism? Judah offers original and up-to-the-minute answers.



5 .) Godfather of the Kremlin: The Decline of Russia in the Age of Gangster Capitalism written by Paul Klebnikov

	Godfather of the Kremlin: The Decline of Russia in the Age of Gangster Capitalism

Lists It Appears On:

  • Five Books
  • Publishers Weekly

Transforming himself from a research scientist to Russia’s most successful dealmaker, Berezovsky managed to seize control of Russia’s largest auto manufacturer, largest TV network, national airline, and one of the world’s biggest oil companies. When Moscow’s gangster families battled one another in the Great Mob War of 1993-1994, Berezovsky was in the thick of it. He was badly burned by a car bomb and his driver was decapitated. A year later, Berezovsky emerged as the prime suspect in the assassination of the director of the TV network he acquired. Although plagued by scandal, he enjoyed President Yeltsin’s support, serving as the personal financial “advisor” to both Yeltsin and his family. In 1996, Berezovsky organized the financing of Yeltsin’s re-election campaign-a campaign marred by fraud, embezzlement, and attempted murder. Berezovsky became the President’s most trusted political advisor-playing a key role in forming governments and dismissing prime ministers.



4 .) Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible written by Peter Pomerantsev

	Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible

Lists It Appears On:

  • The Guardian
  • Time

In the new Russia, even dictatorship is a reality show. Professional killers with the souls of artists, would-be theater directors turned Kremlin puppet-masters, suicidal supermodels, Hell’s Angels who hallucinate themselves as holy warriors, and oligarch revolutionaries: welcome to the glittering, surreal heart of twenty-first-century Russia. It is a world erupting with new money and new power, changing so fast it breaks all sense of reality, home to a form of dictatorship—far subtler than twentieth-century strains—that is rapidly rising to challenge the West. When British producer Peter Pomerantsev plunges into the booming Russian TV industry, he gains access to every nook and corrupt cranny of the country. He is brought to smoky rooms for meetings with propaganda gurus running the nerve-center of the Russian media machine, and visits Siberian mafia-towns and the salons of the international super-rich in London and the US. As the Putin regime becomes more aggressive, Pomerantsev finds himself drawn further into the system.



3 .) Putin’s Kleptocracy written by Karen Dawisha

	Putin’s Kleptocracy

Lists It Appears On:

  • Russia Direct
  • The Guardian

The raging question in the world today is who is the real Vladimir Putin and what are his intentions. Karen Dawisha’s brilliant Putin’s Kleptocracy provides an answer, describing how Putin got to power, the cabal he brought with him, the billions they have looted, and his plan to restore the Greater Russia. Russian scholar Dawisha describes and exposes the origins of Putin’s kleptocratic regime. She presents extensive new evidence about the Putin circle’s use of public positions for personal gain even before Putin became president in 2000. She documents the establishment of Bank Rossiya, now sanctioned by the US; the rise of the Ozero cooperative, founded by Putin and others who are now subject to visa bans and asset freezes; the links between Putin, Petromed, and Putin’s Palace near Sochi; and the role of security officials from Putin’s KGB days in Leningrad and Dresden, many of whom have maintained their contacts with Russian organized crime. Putin’s Kleptocracy is the result of years of research into the KGB and the various Russian crime syndicates. Dawisha’s sources include Stasi archives; Russian insiders; investigative journalists in the US, Britain, Germany, Finland, France, and Italy; and Western officials who served in Moscow. Russian journalists wrote part of this story when the Russian media was still free. Many of them died for this story, and their work has largely been scrubbed from the Internet, and even from Russian libraries, Dawisha says. But some of that work remains.



2 .) The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin written by Steven Lee Myers

	The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

Lists It Appears On:

  • Russia Direct
  • Time

A riveting, immensely detailed biography of Putin that explains in full-bodied, almost Shakespearian fashion why he acts the way he does.” –Robert D. Kaplan The New Tsar is the book to read if you want to understand how Vladimir Putin sees the world and why he has become one of the gravest threats to American security. The epic tale of the rise to power of Russia’s current president—the only complete biography in English – that fully captures his emergence from shrouded obscurity and deprivation to become one of the most consequential and complicated leaders in modern history, by the former New York Times Moscow bureau chief. In a gripping narrative of Putin’s rise to power as Russia’s president, Steven Lee Myers recounts Putin’s origins—from his childhood of abject poverty in Leningrad, to his ascension through the ranks of the KGB, and his eventual consolidation of rule. Along the way, world events familiar to readers, such as September 11th and Russia’s war in Georgia in 2008, as well as the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, are presented from never-before-seen perspectives. This book is a grand, staggering achievement and a breathtaking look at one man’s rule. On one hand, Putin’s many reforms—from tax cuts to an expansion of property rights—have helped reshape the potential of millions of Russians whose only experience of democracy had been crime, poverty, and instability after the fall of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, Putin has ushered in a new authoritarianism, unyielding in his brutal repression of revolts and squashing of dissent. Still, he retains widespread support from the Russian public. The New Tsar is a narrative tour de force, deeply researched, and utterly necessary for anyone fascinated by the formidable and ambitious Vladimir Putin, but also for those interested in the world and what a newly assertive Russia might mean for the future.



1 .) One Soldier’s War in Chechnya written by Arkady Babchenko

	One Soldier’s War in Chechnya

Lists It Appears On:

  • Five Books
  • Publishers Weekly
  • The Guardian

One Soldier’s War is a visceral and unflinching memoir of a young Russian soldier’s experience in the Chechen wars that brilliantly captures the fear, drudgery, chaos, and brutality of modern combat. An excerpt of the book was hailed by Tibor Fisher in the Guardian as “right up there with Catch-22 and Michael Herr’s Dispatches,” and the book won Russia’s inaugural Debut Prize, which recognizes authors who write “despite, not because of, their life circumstances.” In 1995, Arkady Babchenko was an eighteen-year-old law student in Moscow when he was drafted into the Russian army and sent to Chechnya. It was the beginning of a torturous journey from naïve conscript to hardened soldier that took Babchenko from the front lines of the first Chechen War in 1995 to the second in 1999. He fought in major cities and tiny hamlets, from the bombed-out streets of Grozny to anonymous mountain villages. Babchenko takes the raw and mundane realities of war—the constant cold, hunger, exhaustion, filth, and terror—and twists it into compelling, haunting, and eerily elegant prose. Acclaimed by reviewers around the world, this is a devastating first-person account of war by an extraordinary storyteller.




The 25+ Additional Best Books About Russia And Vladimir Putin



#BooksAuthorsLists
9A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from ChechnyaAnna Politovskaya
Publishers Weekly
10American National Security in an Age of Lies NY Times
11BabylonVictor Pelevin
The Guardian
12
Beyond Crimea: The New Russian Empire (2016)
 Time
13
Black Wind, White Snow: The Rise of Russia’s New Nationalism (2016)
 Time
14Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the CaucasusGeorgi M DerluguianFive Books
15Collapse of the Empire: Lessons for Modern RussiaEgor Gaidar
Publishers Weekly
16Day of the OprichnikVladimir Sorokin
The Guardian
17Labour After CommunismDavid MandelFive Books
18Mafia StateLuke Harding
The Guardian
19Peter the Great: His Life and World (1980) Time
20Putin EraRoy Medvedev.
Russia Direct
21Putin: A Guide For Those Who CareVladimir Solovyov.
Russia Direct
22Putin: His ideologyAlexei Chadayev.
Russia Direct
23Russia’s Oil and Natural GasMichael EllmanFive Books
24Secondhand Time: The Last of the SovietsSvetlana Alexievich
Publishers Weekly
25Sex, Politics, and Putin: Political Legitimacy in RussiaValerie Sperling.
Russia Direct
26The Dictator’s HandbookBruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith
The Guardian
27
The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump
 NY Times
28The Man without a FaceMasha Gessen
The Guardian
29The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGBIrina Borogan, Andrei Soldatov
Publishers Weekly
30The New RussiaMikhail Gorbachev
Publishers Weekly
31The Putin MystiqueAnna Arutunyan.
Russia Direct
32The Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for JusticeBill Browder
Publishers Weekly
33
The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries (2015)
 Time
34The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin NY Times
35The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for RussiaAngus Roxburgh.
Russia Direct
36Vladimir Putin: Renaissance ManKenneth Goddard.
Russia Direct
37
Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia (2012)
 Time
38White on BlackRuben Gallego
Publishers Weekly


6 Best Vladimir Putin Book Sources/Lists



SourceArticle
Five Books The Best Books on Putin’s Russia
NY Times Read These 3 Books About Putin and Russian Interference in the
Publishers Weekly 10 Books That Explain Russia Today
Russia Direct 10 must-read books about Vladimir Putin
The Guardian Top 10 books on Vladimir Putin’s Russia
Time Russia and Vladimir Putin: 9 Books to Read Right Now

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