Putin's People Book Summary - Putin's People Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro
00:00

Putin's People summary

Catherine Belton

How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took On the West

4.3 (367 ratings)
37 mins
Table of Contents

    Putin's People
    Summary of 12 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 12

    Before entering politics, Vladimir Putin was a member of the KGB.

    From childhood, Vladimir Putin dreamed of joining the KGB, the Soviet Union’s secret police force. He was eager to follow in his father’s footsteps – so eager, in fact, that he called up the local Leningrad KGB office and asked to join before he’d even graduated school.

    Throughout his education, Putin was careful to enroll in exactly the programs and classes which the KGB office directed him toward. He followed their orders with the utmost precision. All the while, he vented his aggression by practicing judo.

    As a newly minted member of the KGB, Putin arrived in Dresden, East Germany, in 1985. It was there that he first encountered secret missions, smuggling, and assassinations.

    The key message here is: Before entering politics, Vladimir Putin was a member of the KGB.

    When Vladimir Putin arrived in Dresden, the city was known as little more than an East German backwater. In total, there were just six KGB officers posted there. Meanwhile, East Germany itself was on the verge of bankruptcy, and the ruling Communist Party was in danger of collapse.

    Sensing these issues, the KGB launched a secret mission called Operation Luch. Its goal was to build up a network of agents to join political circles. That way, the KGB’s presence in Germany would survive, even if the country was reunified.

    Much of Putin’s role in this operation remains a mystery. But what we do know is that Putin eventually became the main KGB liaison officer with the Stasi, the East German secret police. He even had his own Stasi identification card. That gave him access to Stasi buildings and made it easier for him to recruit agents for Operation Luch.

    Terrorism was also a major part of the mission. In particular, the secret police were deeply involved with the Red Army Faction, a Marxist group in West Germany that helped to protect KGB interests. On one occasion, the chairman of the major financial institution Deutsche Bank was driving to work when a grenade in his car was detonated, killing him instantly. It’s possible that the blast was triggered by a Red Army Faction member, and we know that this group learned precise military detonation techniques at training camps connected to the Stasi. With the chairman’s death, Deutsche Bank was weakened, and a Stasi-affiliated bank had an opportunity to gain strength.

    These secret operations with the KGB and the Stasi were just the start of Putin’s long rise to power.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Putin's People?

    Key ideas in Putin's People

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Putin's People about?

    Putin’s People (2020) is a shocking account of the corruption and political schemes that swirl around Russia’s infamous president, Vladimir Putin, and his close inner circle. The KGB is well-known as the former Soviet Union’s secret police force – but that was far from its only role in the Soviet government and economy. This is the story of how the KGB lost its power, gained it back, and has been exploiting it ever since.

    Best quote from Putin's People

    [Religion] was conveniently designed to make serfs out of Russians again… so that Putin the tsar could rule with absolute power.

    —Catherine Belton
    example alt text

    Who should read Putin's People?

    • Fans of political intrigue and international relations
    • Students of Russian history and culture
    • Anyone curious about the inner workings of Vladimir Putin’s regime

    About the Author

    Catherine Belton is an investigative journalist who currently works as a special correspondent for Reuters. Formerly, she served the Financial Times as its Moscow correspondent and then its legal correspondent. She was shortlisted for Business Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2008.

    Categories with Putin's People

    Books like Putin's People

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    27 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    91%
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial