• Title: Inside Putin's Russia: Can There Be Reform without Democracy?
  • Author: Andrew Jack
  • Released: 2004-10-22
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 384
  • ISBN: 0195177975
  • ISBN13: 978-0195177978
  • ASIN: 0195177975
From Publishers Weekly In assessing Vladimir Putin's first term as Russia's president, Jack, Moscow bureau chief of the Financial Times, answers a very limited "yes" to the subtitle's question. His finely wrought political record of the country's last four years argues that a detailed understanding of Russia's particular combination of circumstances—Cold War security-state trauma; out-of-control crony capitalism; a simmering, terror-centered civil war—make Putin's autocracy more comprehensible, if not palatable or sustainable. A familiar introductory profile of a smart, engaged Putin; sketches of gulag survivor culture; Putin's rise from Petersburg-based bureaucrat to Yeltsin's handpicked successor, then autocratic ruler; and Chechnya's role in shaping Putin's rule since his appointment to the presidency in 2000 (with subsequent elections) form the book's succinct first half. The book's second half finely renders the fallout from Russia's disastrous privatization in the 1990s; in chapters like "Autumn of the Oligarchs," Jack (The French Exception) sees Putin as attempting to get the power brokers created by Yeltsin to serve the country with a combination of shrewd legislation, media control and raw power. It can be tough to keep track of the players in the shady doings of Yukos, Lukoil and other energy companies still in the news, but Jack's familiarity with and skepticism of them makes for directed reading. The result is an excellent (and wary) political and economic overview of an often opaque U.S. ally.
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"In the most comprehensive account of Putin's first term in office now in print, Jack presents a judicious account of his achievements: tax reform, balanced budgets, sharply reduced international lending and a booming economy." --Michael McFaul, Washington Post Book World

"A fluent, detailed and balanced account of Russian power politics, with a lively emphasis on the Kremlin's onslaught against independent media and stroppy tycoons."--The Economist

"A clear-eyed, highly readable look at modern Russia, with all its ongoing enigmas and mysteries."--Kirkus Reviews

"Jack's book is, as the title suggests, an attempt to see Russia from within, to understand it on its own terms. Jack is not sympathetic to the regime, but he is fascinated by the country.... We learn a huge amount about Putin's Russia along the way.... The restraint and the skepticism that run through Jack's book do even more credit to the author now that Putin's credentials are going up in smoke."--Robert Cottrell, New York Review of Books

"A must-read for avid Russia-watchers...masterfully reveals the inner workings of Putin's Kremlin.... Jack draws on extensive first-hand knowledge from his six years as Moscow bureau chief for London's Financial Times to enliven his narrative.... Jack's book is well written and meticulously researched, exhibiting refreshingly few of the oversimplifications that too often pepper popular accounts of contemporary Russian politics.... An impressive book that goes a long way toward improving our collective understanding of what motivates Russian politics today."--Juliet Johnson, Globe & Mail

"An excellent (and wary) political and economic overview of an often opaque U.S. ally."--Publishers Weekly

"Lively, fluent and well-informed." --Guardian

"Andrew Jack has been responsible for some of the best coverage of Russian affairs in recent years. Inside Putin's Russia is intelligent, meticulously researched and readable: everything a political biography should be." --Sunday Times

"Andrew Jack could hardly have picked a better time to come out with a book on Vladimir Putin. It helps contextualize some of the new concerns about Putin's leadership and about whether Russia, once seemingly on the path to democracy, is lurching instead toward dictatorship. Jack puts the president's moves into perspective."--Anna Kuchment, Newsweek International

"Inside Putin's Russia is as much about getting inside Putin himself, at least insofar as intelligent, informed speculation can penetrate a naturally closed personality. Jack, The Financial Times' Moscow bureau chief, focuses on five critical areas that Putin has shaped (and they him): the war in Chechnya, media relations, trimming the oligarchs, institutional reform, and foreign policy. These are twice-told tales, but Jack reconstitutes them very well, adding fresh detail and a reporter's keen eye."--Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs

"A helpful overview of the Putin era since 2000.... Jack, who is Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times, gives us a country with 'chill breezes returning from the past,' possibly headed toward a new political Ice Age."--Carlin Romano, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Jack gives considerable attention to the regime's takeover of NTV, the most independent of the Russian television channels, by the state-controlled energy company Gazprom. This is a story that has been told before, but what makes Mr. Jack's narrative particularly useful is that he describes the extent to which NTV was corrupt itself.... Jack provides valuable background to the Chechen conflict."--David Satter, The New York Sun

"A sober look at the new Russia."--Denver Post

"Jack's work argues persuasively that so far Russia's democracy has been a 'virtual democracy' only and that the Russian people must learn the basics of democracy to make it work."--Library Journal

"Admirable.... Jack shows in fascinating detail how [the so-called oligarchs] came by their wealth." --Spectator

"Andrew Jack has given us a vivid, sophisticated picture of Russia's political and economic culture under President Vladimir Putin. Jack offers a penetrating analysis of Putin's contradictory path as a modernizer of Russia--and of where this path might lead." --Mark Medish, former senior director for Russian affairs, U.S. National Security Council

"Inside Putin's Russia provides astute and accurate observations on what Russia has become under President Putin. In a lucid and highly readable book, Jack shows devastatingly how Putin has systematically curtailed democracy in Russia, while capitalism has triumphed. No other book gives such a clear feel of Putin's Russia." --Anders Åslund, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

"Andrew Jack's work is a valuable contribution to the literature on Russia at the start of the 21st Century: intelligent, fair-minded, and enlivened by the author's experiences as a journalist in Russia, and by his meetings with some of the leading figures there." --Anatol Lieven, author of the forthcoming America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism

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