The Man Without a Face

The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin
Narrated by: Masha Gessen
Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (94 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award-winner Masha Gessen's biography of a ruthless man's ascent to near-absolute power.

“In a country where journalists critical of the government have a way of meeting untimely deaths, Ms. Gessen has shown remarkable courage in researching and writing this unflinching indictment of the most powerful man in Russia.” (The Wall Street Journal)

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 and made his country once more a threat to its 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 a 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 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 is the definitive biography of Vladimir Putin.

©2012 Masha Gessen (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Man Without a Face

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Clear and intelligent political reporting

Gessen is an excellent writer and witness of Russia's return to the totalitarian failed state of Lenin and Stalin. In a precise, direct narrative she chronicles how KGB operative Putin, with sullen cunning, stumbled into his dictatorship thereby completely closing any hope of individual political freedom opened by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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A Preview of Authoritarianism in the USA

For an in depth view of how democracy fails and authoritarianism takes root, read this incredible personal story from an eye witness to history, Masha Gessen. Don’t think it can happen here in the USA? Think again.

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Gripping!

Excellent story and narration. I enjoyed the author as the narrator. Her retelling of all the experiences she had with the rise of Putin’s government was gripping. It was clear and factual. The timeline was excellent and many side stories were helpful and interesting. I found myself, many times, pausing the story googling people and places. These extras gave humanity to the story and landscape. I really appreciated her bravery for writing and telling this story. Highly recommend!

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Wow

Lots to think about in this book. Now, I want a sequel to bring us up to date.

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Book for our time.

excellent analysis and fine presentation. holds one's attention. Timely read in current situation of United States.

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  • 06-27-20

More about Gessen than about Putin

I had high hopes for this study but in the end it seemed more like a work about Gessen than about Putin. Throughout the book she used the Putin era as a backdrop in order to create her "brand" as a sexy revolutionary type but in the end it seemed more like a vanity project than a historical study. Just one man's opinion.

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A remarkable story about the rise of a dictator.

Gessen writes in a somewhat dry and matter of fact style that seem to be very Russian. The subject matter is also very Russian of course. It is a fascinating story with an incredible amount of detail exposing the rise of a not too sofisticated street thug to become the head of the Russian federation. He later develops into a worldwide egomaniac. The connection to the present authoritarian US President makes it even more contemporary and interesting for any American who wants to understand the relationship between US and Russia.

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Urgently written, clearly narrated

Masha Gessen provides an account of Vladimir Putin and his rule of Russia after the fall of the USSR and Yeltsin in stunning detail. This is her piercing personal and professional perspective as a journalist covering some of the most tragic and nefarious events by the Russian government controlled by Putin in its vertical decision-making structure: Kursk submarine disaster, Beslam school gymnasium hostage disaster, similarly the theatre hostage disaster, bombing of apartments and other structures killing hundreds of sleeping residents in Russian by government security forces. Also government sponsored assassinations in Russia and abroad. Additionally restricting citizens’ civil rights, such as the right to assemble. Cracking down on the freedom of the press and jailing journalists. And the government prosecuting businessmen and liquidating their corporations. All to line the pockets of Putin, his cronies in government, in organized crime, and oligarchs. Billions of dollars. A thuggish and gangster regime that skims money off inflated projects like the Rotenburg brothers and the Sochi Olympics. Millions flow for a contract for meat to feed the people in Moscow but it is never delivered. Where did it go. As long as certain people got their cuts, it didn’t matter. Now Putin has tighten the reins of the country so that it has transformed to the USSR, his beloved.

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We are surprised?

Ms. Gessen provides the reader with background for Vladimir Putin's rise to power. As she continually describes, Vladimir Putin is unqualified from an intellectual or strategic perspective. What are we to do with this information? Russians get the leaders they deserve. A country with this level of corruption and unqualified leaders only offers the world mischief. Russia is irrelevant on the world stage. Ms. Gessen's book provides little new insights or perspectives on the Russian leader. I wasted my time.

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Please please make someone else the narrator

I can honestly understand the desire of the offer to narrate her own book, but after trying for a few chapters to listen to it I just couldn’t. She is a great writer brought her performance narrating the book is astoundingly bad. I will stop listening to it now.

2 people found this helpful