Putin’s Russia: The Rise Of A Dictator

By Darryl Cunningham
Publisher: Myriad Editions
ISBN: 9781912408917

As I type this, Russia’s action against the Ukrainian territories it claims to recognise have begun.

Putin has not long given a fiery speech, rewriting history to help justify his actions. He’s an indomitable figure, and looks as if he’ll once again get what he wants with little come-back. He’s mysterious, powerful, ruthless and defiant. However, it just so happens that the brilliant Darryl Cunningham has penned a new book that helps us understand how Putin rose to power, and how he clings to it.

Starting with his early life, we quickly see what sort of environment shaped Putin, and it wasn’t a cosy one. He aspired to be in the KGB and made sure he got noticed by them. But what seemed to cement his future was an internal situation just prior to the fall of communism. Failing policies saw food production crumble, with long queues and rising prices. In Leningrad, Putin was given the job of overseeing contracts to buy food from outside the USSR in return for access to natural resources. $92,000,000 was discovered to be missing and a further $900,000,000 was suspect. With that sort of prize at stake, exposing it was difficult, even deadly. Through bribes, threats and force, Putin’s rise had begun.

Putin’s actions, again and again, are self-serving, enriching him, and solidifying his position at the expense of all others. Cunningham charts several incidents where poisoning ends the lives of those that pose a threat, or heavy-handed military action leaves countless innocent individuals dead, such as the Moscow theatre siege. As long as power is secured, that’s all that matters.

This is superb journalism, presented clearly and creatively to hammer home every point made.  Much of what you’ll learn you’ll recall snippets of from the news at the time. It’s only when it’s stitched together across the entire book that you realise the sheer brazen audacity and utter ruthlessness of the man who has led Russia for so long. 

You can’t help but admire the author’s diligence and determination, either. As the book reminds you throughout, its subject matter is not afraid to tackle his critics head-on, and on foreign soil, too. It’s a brave individual who takes up the challenge to map the dictator’s life.

Regardless of what happens in Ukraine in the coming days and weeks, it is unlikely that anything will unseat Russia’s leader anytime soon. As you’ll learn, he’s always willing to do the things that other nations aren’t, and although sanctions hurt, they do little when your fortune is so vast and your control so crushingly tight. Like it or not, Putin overshadows us all, but at least this book shines some light on him and his actions. An utterly hypnotising and accessible read throughout. 

And if you liked that: Get a copy of Cunningham’s Billionaires, an engrossing dive into the likes of Murdock and Bezos and how they made their money.

, , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply