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The Man without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin | [Masha Gessen]

The Man without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin

The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress, making his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.
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Publisher's Summary

The Man Without a Face is the chilling account of how a low-level, small-minded KGB operative ascended to the Russian presidency and, in an astonishingly short time, destroyed years of progress, making his country once more a threat to her own people and to the world.

Handpicked as a successor by the “family” surrounding an ailing and increasingly unpopular Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin seemed like the perfect choice for the oligarchy to shape according to its own designs. Suddenly the boy who had stood in the shadows, dreaming of ruling the world, was a public figure, and his popularity soared. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see the progressive leader of their dreams, even as he seized control of the media, sent political rivals and critics into exile or to the grave, and smashed the country’s fragile electoral system, concentrating power in the hands of his cronies.

As a journalist living in Moscow, Masha Gessen experienced this history firsthand, and for The Man Without a Face she has drawn on information and sources no other writer has tapped. Her account of how a faceless man maneuvered his way into absolute - and absolutely corrupt - power has the makings of a classic of narrative nonfiction.

©2012 Masha Gessen (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“A thorough account…[Gessen] has written something rare: an accessible book about an unreachable man.” (New York Times Book Review on Perfect Rigor)

“Despite news reports, Putin doesn’t have quite the notoriety he deserves in the West; Gessen should push him to the forefront.” (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (200 )
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3.7 (180 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Katherine Georgetown, Ontario, Canada 01-08-14
    Katherine Georgetown, Ontario, Canada 01-08-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Better than I expected, worth a listen!"

    I think this is a great introduction to the topic of post-Communist Russia. It's easy to listen to, covering things we have heard about in the headlines, and giving us greater depth and perspective. There is likely bias at work, but it doesn't spoil the overall approach because the evidence of her basic thesis is overwhelming. I picked to listen to it now because, with the Sochi Olympics coming next month and some terrorist attacks happening in Russia, it resonated with me. Putin's response was this: " Putin vows to annihilate "terrorists" after suicide bombings". That comment alone gives the skeleton of his character and then this book puts flesh on the bones. I really enjoyed it. It portrays awful things that happened with enough detail to grasp the ugliness, but not so much that it's depressing and you wish to turn away from it. That's a difficult balance to achieve. I'm still not sure how Masha Gessen stayed alive, but I'm going to listen to the epilogue again and see if there's a clue there...I fell asleep the first time, not from boredom, just late night.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    casey 04-30-15
    casey 04-30-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting story but terrible narration!"

    The subject matter was very interesting but I could not stand to listen to the narrator! I learned a lot about Putin - sadly!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Javier Lucero 03-20-15 Member Since 2015
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    "not what you're expecting"

    I learned more about Russia's history than I did about how Putin came to power. If I wanted that I would have purchased a Russian history book. it just wasn't what I wanted or expected.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blastnegativity 01-21-15 Member Since 2014

    I saw 'The Pagemaster' in elementary school.

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    "Lazy ear more attentive to narration than content"

    Very interesting topic, but the writing is the kind you may want to go into with a glass of water (i.e. because it's a bit dry). But more so than that, I couldn't help but find the narrator's sex kitten vocal fry distracting from the content, though it did bespeak a tone of detached cynicism that I felt goes hand in hand with the futilistic description of Russian corruption.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    danielle lyall 01-14-15
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    "Insightful!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Man without a Face to be better than the print version?

    I listened to the audio and followed along with the print because it was such dense material. I needed a better understanding of Russia in general and this was a wonderful piece to clarify my interest.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elena T. Lebedev Natick, MA USA 12-11-14
    Elena T. Lebedev Natick, MA USA 12-11-14 Member Since 2012
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    "An excellent book on modern Russian history"
    Would you listen to The Man without a Face again? Why?

    Yes, but hopefully with a different narrator.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The author, Masha Gessen. I enjoyed her story and analysis of changes in modern Russian history and how Putin came to power.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Instead of trying hard to fake Russian accent it would be better to focus on correct pronounciation of Russian names and toponyms. It was almost painful to listen at times, despite the excellent qualities of the book itself.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Modern Russia, a story of stolen freedom.


    Any additional comments?

    I truly enjoyed the book, Masha Gessen's analysis of recent events in Russia where I spent a lot of time and lived through Perestroika years. Masha Gessen became one of my favorite authors. I would recommend a different narrator though since fake Russian accent and incorrectly pronounced names and toponyms distract from enjoying this excellent book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gayle 01-06-13
    Gayle 01-06-13
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    "Very interesting"
    Where does The Man without a Face rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is compelling nonfiction - a very interesting look at post Kruschev Soviet/Russian history and the rise of Putin - "the man without a face."


    What other book might you compare The Man without a Face to and why?

    Lenin's Tomb - by David Remnick - a story of post- Lenin Russia. A more comprehensive book than "Man with out a Face." And more compelling, but in the same ilk.


    Which character – as performed by Justine Eyre – was your favorite?

    She does adequate characterizations, but the book doesn't require more than adequate. Her voice is a little hoarse and grating at times, but the narration overall is fine.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The book gives another aspect of post-Soviet Russia - and shows how the soviet legacy of power politics and the crushing of dissent have survived the "fall" of the iron curtain.


    Any additional comments?

    A very good read for anyone who wishes to see beyond the minimal press coverage of Russia since the 1990's. Also a stark warning to those who see Russia and Russian politics as a benign force to be ignored.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Xiaohu Canada 04-07-12
    Xiaohu Canada 04-07-12
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    "Wordy and short on facts."

    I had recently finished Steve Coll's detailed and meticulously researched book on the Bin Laden family history and purchased this book hoping for something along those lines for Putin.

    Boy was I disappointed, far from a informative account of Putin, his rise and the internal structures of power in Russia, what I got instead was a weird jumble of semipersonal feelings about that period and remminances about her life and her friends under Putin's political rule. What I liked about Coll was his ability to write an objective narrative about the Bin Ladens without any sort of emotional judgement, this was not the case for this book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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