In the tradition of Hedrick Smith's The Russians, Robert G. Kaiser's Russia: The People and the Power, and David Remnick's Lenin's Tomb comes an eloquent and eye-opening chronicle of Vladimir Putin's Russia, from this generation's leading Moscow correspondents. With the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia launched itself on a fitful transition to Western-style democracy. But a decade later, Boris Yeltsin's handpicked successor, Vladimir Putin, a childhood hooligan turned KGB officer who rose from nowhere determined to restore the order of the Soviet past, resolved to bring an end to the revolution. Kremlin Rising goes behind the scenes of contemporary Russia to reveal the culmination of Project Putin, the secret plot to reconsolidate power in the Kremlin. During their four years as Moscow bureau chiefs for The Washington Post, Peter Baker and Susan Glasser witnessed firsthand the methodical campaign to reverse the post-Soviet revolution and transform Russia back into an authoritarian state. Their gripping narrative moves from the unlikely rise of Putin through the key moments of his tenure that re-centralized power into his hands, from his decision to take over Russia's only independent television network to the Moscow theater siege of 2002 to the "managed democracy" elections of 2003 and 2004 to the horrific slaughter of Beslan's schoolchildren in 2004, recounting a four-year period that has changed the direction of modern Russia. But the authors also go beyond the politics to draw a moving and vivid portrait of the Russian people they encountered -- both those who have prospered and those barely surviving -- and show how the political flux has shaped individual lives. Opening a window to a country on the brink, where behind the gleaming new shopping malls all things Soviet are chic again and even high school students wonder if Lenin was right after all, Kremlin Rising features the personal stories of Russians at all levels of society, including frightened army deserters, an imprisoned oil billionaire, Chechen villagers, a trendy Moscow restaurant king, a reluctant underwear salesman, and anguished AIDS patients in Siberia. With shrewd reporting and unprecedented access to Putin's insiders, Kremlin Rising offers both unsettling new revelations about Russia's leader and a compelling inside look at life in the land that he is building. As the first major book on Russia in years, it is an extraordinary contribution to our understanding of the country and promises to shape the debate about Russia, its uncertain future, and its relationship with the United States.
"A bombshell of a book which makes clear why Putin's regime -- though successful in conning Bush -- does not have a bright future." -- Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Carter
"Here is the first great book on the new Russia, as fresh as this morning's headlines and great fun to read. Baker and Glasser have cracked the code -- they explain Putin's Russia in terms any intelligent reader can understand. It is a grim story, told in vivid detail with great narrative skill. If Vladimir Putin uses his newly acquired English-language skills to read this book, he won't like it. But readers curious about what has happened to the country we once considered our most important rival won't want to put it down." -- Robert G. Kaiser, author of Russia: The People and the Power and Why Gorbachev Happened
"Peter Baker and Susan Glasser have achieved something very unusual: They have given clarity and coherence to the confusing and contradictory story of Putin's Russia. Cutting through propaganda and conventional wisdom, they examine everything from terrorism to pop music in order to paint an uncannily precise portrait of contemporary Russian society." -- Anne Applebaum, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag: A History
"The latest chapter in the epic story of Russia is superbly told in Kremlin Rising. Baker and Glasser's assessment of Vladimir Putin's leadership is especially vivid and scathing in its portrayal of his antidemocratic instincts." -- Peter Osnos, publisher and CEO of PublicAffairs Books and former Washington Post Moscow correspondent
"This devastating indictment of Vladimir Putin will remove the blinders from anyone who stills sees post-communist Russia as moving toward democracy. Baker and Glasser trace Putin's moves to turn back the revolution and restore authoritarian rule. Most distressingly, they claim he has the support of Russia's majority who prefer firm control to chaos. Using lies and various forms of manipulation, Putin has gone after all sources of opposition - the independent media, local governors, national legislators and the oligarchs who helped his rise to power. Dissidents who once fought Soviet power have been marginalized in their efforts to call attention to these excesses and to the tens of thousands of casualties of the war against Chechnya. This is compelling reading, a timely and important book." --Jeri Laber, a founder of Human Rights Watch, author of The Courage of Strangers: Coming of Age with the Human Rights Movement.
"A superb portrait of Putin's Russia by two reporters with an eye for the telling detail, an ear for the subtext of Russian life, and balanced, probing judgments about one of the most important dramas of our time." --Strobe Talbott, President, Brookings Institution