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The Best Books About Vladimir Putin

If you want to understand the most controversial Russian leader, explore our curated list of the best books about Vladimir Putin, his life, his passions, his decisions.
by Chris Allmer | Oct 23 2023

From his judo expertise, his KGB history to his unexpected musical performances and affinity for animals, Vladimir Putin remains one of the world’s most enigmatic figures. Putin’s actions and policies have caused significant debate both in Russia and abroad.

In order to understand the complexities of this paramount figure, you must first understand the man behind the global headlines. Fortunately, Blinkist offers an opportunity to explore comprehensive summaries of the best books about Vladimir Putin that shed light on various facets of his life and leadership.

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Who is Vladimir Putin?

Vladimir Putin, born on 7 October 1952 in Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, has left an indelible mark on contemporary Russian politics. Starting his career with the KGB, Putin spent 16 years as a foreign intelligence officer. He later secured the position of lieutenant colonel before transitioning to politics in the early 1990s.

Since then, Putin has consistently held significant roles in the Russian government, serving as prime minister from 1999-2000 and 2008-2012 and as president from 2000-2008 and again from 2012 onwards.

Beyond his professional life, Putin is a man of wide-ranging interests. He’s a black belt in judo and has often shown off his martial arts skills in public. His musical affinity is another facet that has intrigued many; he’s a fan of classical music and has occasionally performed songs in front of an audience.

In his personal life, Putin is known to be private about his family. He was married to Lyudmila Shkrebneva for over three decades, and the couple has two daughters, Maria and Katerina.

Although not much is known about his daughters, it’s clear that the family holds a significant place in Putin’s life. This blend of political determination, diverse hobbies, and a closely guarded personal life makes Vladimir Putin one of the most intriguing figures on the global stage. 

“It’s better to be hanged for loyalty than rewarded for betrayal.”
Vladimir Putin

But to get a real sense of the man often at the center of world headlines, you need to dive deeper than just the news. With Blinkist, you can quickly tap into the essence of the most insightful books about Vladimir Putin and bring out layers of his life and leadership that aren’t always evident at first glance.

The Best Books About Vladimir Putin

1. Putin’s People by Catherine Belton

Putin’s People (2020) is a shocking account of the corruption and political schemes that swirl around Russia’s 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.

2. Russian Roulette by Michael Isikoff and David Corn

Russian Roulette shows the results of an investigation by two journalists into the Russian interference in the 2016 American presidential election. These include details on Trump’s business ties to Russia, the Russian connections of his campaign team, the Russian hacking of Democratic institutions, the disinformation campaigns on social media, and what Russian intelligence might have gathered to compromise Trump.

3. The Man Without A Face by Masha Gessen

This biography of Russian President Vladimir Putin shines a clear light on one of contemporary history’s more shadowy political figures. The book charts Putin’s almost accidental rise to Russia’s highest office, starting from his benign beginnings in the state secret police.

His vindictive personality, overwhelming greed, and disdain for democratic norms continue to transform Russia today.

“Russia doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. It destroys them.”
Vladimir Putin

4. Navalny by Jan Matti Dollbaum

To understand Putin’s Russia, explore the voice of dissent in Alexei Navalny. In a regime where opposition figures often face threats, this book provides a unique lens into the challenges of standing up against the status quo in modern Russia.

5. The Future is History by Masha Gessen

The Future Is History (2017) tackles the complex issue of Russia’s love/hate relationship with democracy. By looking at the lives of a select few, Masha Gessen takes us from the collapse of the Communist Party to deep within the activism of the Putin era – all in an attempt to show us how and why Russia’s modern brand of totalitarianism came about.

Yet, understanding Putin is just one piece of the puzzle. The evolving dynamics between Russia on the geopolitical map and especially its neighbor, Ukraine, have come into sharp focus recently. The year 2022 saw an intense escalation when Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, amplifying a conflict that had been simmering since 2014.

For those of you eager to navigate the intricacies of these geopolitical tremors, we’ve also curated a list of essential books that spotlight the Russia-Ukraine situation

As Russia continues to be a prominent topic in global discourse, Blinkist presents a curated selection of insightful nonfiction that cuts into the Russia-Ukraine conflict. You will find the best books about Vladimir Putin and learn to understand this complex, controversial leader and his influence on the world stage.

If you are curious to learn more about Vladimir Putin, who’s both shaping and stirring 21st-century geopolitics, begin your exploration with Blinkist. And with our free 7-day trial, there’s no better time to start. 

Start your free 7-day trial

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