The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

By Steven Lee Myers The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin is a major new biography by the former Moscow Bureau Chief of the New York Times.

He knows that Putin is not a tsar, but he also knows that Putin is the unrivaled dictator of Russia, with big dreams to restore Russia to a place or preeminence.

He traces the rise of Putin from very humble, poor roots in Leningrad, through the ranks of the KGB, including a stint in East Germany when the wall fell in 1989, and then into politics as the Deputy of St. Petersburg’s mayor. From there he became involved with Boris Yeltsin’s administration in Moscow, including the Director of the KGB. Then, in a surprise move, Yeltsin anoints Putin as his successor. Since that time Putin has steadily accumulated power, and no doubt wealth, to where he has been the undisputed ruler of Russia for some time.

He rode a wave of economic growth in his early years and probably helped it some. But he also eliminated fair elections and other trappings of democracy. Moreover, he eliminated rivals and critics either by exile, looting their company, sending them to prison, or having them killed. In the last few years he has been ravaging Ukraine. Corruption has soared. Honesty and transparency have suffered.

I read this book because I wanted to understand Putin more, and I have that, but this is not a book I would particularly recommend unless someone was especially interested in Russia.