What We Are Reading Today: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

Updated 08 May 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

The swearing-in of Vladimir Putin for his fourth term as president of Russia was not a scenario envisaged in 1999 when his only administrative experience was as deputy mayor of St. Petersburg.

But for the oligarchy bent on molding Russia’s political figure to its own designs, he was perfect. Suddenly the boy who had scrapped his way through post-war Leningrad schoolyards, dreaming of ruling the world, was a public figure, and his popularity soared.

But he was not the progressive Russia an infatuated West thought they were getting. With ruthless efficiency Putin dismantled the country’s media, wrested control and wealth from the country’s burgeoning business class, and decimated the fragile mechanisms of democracy.

Within a few brief years, virtually every obstacle to his unbridled control was removed and every opposing voice silenced, with political rivals and critics driven into exile or the grave.

As a journalist living in Moscow, Masha Gessen experienced this history firsthand. 

Drawing on previously untapped information and sources, her horrifying and spellbinding account of how this “faceless” man maneuvered his way into absolute — and absolutely corrupt — power will stand as a classic of narrative non-fiction.


What We Are Watching Today: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 

Updated 21 May 2018
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What We Are Watching Today: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised 

In Venezuela, where elections took place on Sunday, the legacy of the late firebrand socialist leader Hugo Chavez still dominates the country.

President Nicolas Maduro was the hand-picked successor to Chavez and campaigns on a platform of continuing the “Chavismo” policies.

Those policies have plunged the country into a deep economic crisis, despite it having some of the world’s largest oil reserves.

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is a 2003 documentary, which was filmed by an Irish crew, in the buildup to and during an attempted coup against Chavez in 2002.

It focuses on the role of the private media and the coverage of violent protests.

While it has been accused of pro-Chavez bias, the filmmakers’ close proximity to the unfolding events gives an uncomfortable view of the political schisms that threaten to tear Venezuela apart.