Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft


Vladimir Putin and Russian Statecraft

Allen C. Lynch

Shapers of International History Series

184 pages


September 2011


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eBook (PDF)
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November 2011


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About the Book

Since Russian leader Vladimir Putin assumed power in August 1999, speculation about his character, motives, and plans for Russia’s future has been rampant in the West. A portrait of Putin has emerged in the West that is one-dimensional, ill informed, and diametrically opposed to the image of Putin the majority of Russians hold. Even after he stepped down as president in May 2008, retaining a significant measure of power as prime minister under his hand-picked successor, President Dmitri Medvedev, Putin remains poorly understood. In this interpretive biography of Putin, Allen C. Lynch seeks to reconcile the two conflicting images and find out just where the truth lies about the man and the statesman.

Westerners view Putin as an authoritarian holdover from the Soviet era who has clamped down on domestic opposition, freedom of the press, and other elements of a functioning democracy and who has relentlessly exerted Russian influence abroad, challenging the West and seeking to control its post-Soviet periphery. Most Russians, in contrast, are likely to be grateful to Putin for presiding over an economic recovery and reasserting Russian dignity on the world stage. A complete apprehension of the Russian leader, according to Lynch, requires an understanding of the way in which Putin’s personal experiences and critical events in recent Russian history have shaped his outlook. Lynch convincingly demonstrates how a complex interplay of Russia’s post-Soviet circumstances and the particular path of Putin’s career have informed his choices as leader.

Author Bio

Allen C. Lynch is professor of politics at the University of Virginia and former director of the university’s Center for Russian & East European Studies (1993–2008). He is a former assistant director of the W. Averell Harriman Institute for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union at Columbia University. He is the author of several books, including How Russia Is Not Ruled: Reflections on Russian Political Development (2005) and Does Russia Have a Democratic Future? (1997). He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.


“Allen Lynch has produced the most insightful and balanced book yet published on Vladimir Putin and his impact on Russia. It is a key to understanding the first twelve years of 21st century Russia, whether or not Vladimir Putin decides to resume the presidency following the 2012 election.”—Jack F. Matlock, Jr., former U.S. ambassador to the USSR

“Allen Lynch’s ‘interpretive biography’ of the leader who brought stability and economic growth to post-Soviet Russia, behind a facade of manipulative and sometimes ruthless ‘Potemkin democracy,’ ably explains the contrast in Western and Russian views of Putin’s achievements. This well-crafted study is ideally suited not only for courses in Russian or comparative politics, but also for studies of political leadership.”—Robert H. Donaldson, Trustees Professor of Political Science, University of Tulsa

“Allen Lynch’s succinct biography of Vladimir Putin is richly analytical and topical, and it is an incisive and authoritative contribution to political leadership studies as well as interdisciplinary Russian studies. Lynch’s biography is nuanced and comprehensive, balanced and evaluative, and, thanks to clear thinking and writing, it is accessible to a wide readership.”—Erik P. Hoffmann, professor of political science, State University of New York, Albany

“Allen Lynch has done it again. This time, he’s written a superb book that provides a definitive portrait of Vladimir Putin and coolly, carefully, and concisely evaluates his record as Russia’s leader. Both Putin’s many supporters and his many detractors—indeed, Putin himself—would do well to read Lynch’s excellent analysis.”—Alexander J. Motyl, professor of political science, Rutgers University, Newark

“With the sure hand of a longtime observer of the Russian scene, Lynch lucidly analyses and explains the puzzle surrounding the personality and politics of Vladmir Putin, who is reviled abroad and admired at home.”—Andre Liebich, professor of international history and politics, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

"Allen Lynch’s political biography of Vladimir Putin is a must, not only for students but also for an informed readership interested in current Russian affairs. It provides a highly perceptive and exceptionally balanced assessment of Putin’s character, achievements, and failures. In this easy-to-read and captivating book, Lynch offers key concepts for a better understanding of the dilemmas and goals of Russian domestic politics and foreign policy."—Jacques Lévesque, professor emeritus of political science, University of Quebec at Montreal