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

Updated 08 May 2018

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 Reading Today: You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy

Updated 17 February 2020

What We Are Reading Today: You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy

At work, we are taught to lead the conversation. On social media, we shape our personal narratives. At parties, we talk over one another. So do our politicians.

We are not listening. And no one is listening to us.

Despite living in a world where technology allows constant digital communication and opportunities to connect, it seems no one is really listening or even knows how. And it is making us lonelier, more isolated, and less tolerant than ever before. A listener by trade, New York Times contributor Kate Murphy wanted to know how we got here.

In this always illuminating and often humorous deep dive, Murphy explains why we are not listening, what it is doing to us, and how we can reverse the trend, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

She makes accessible the psychology, neuroscience, and sociology of listening while also introducing us to some of the best listeners out there (including a CIA agent, focus group moderator, bartender, radio producer, and top furniture salesman). It is time to stop talking and start listening.