If you're interested in understanding the ins and outs of modern-day Russian politics, then you should definitely pick up a copy of Giuliano da Empoli's "The Wizard of the Kremlin." This book provides an in-depth analysis of how Vladimir Putin managed to consolidate his power and become one of the most influential figures in the world. His main character, Vadim Baranov, is a fictional close Putin advisor who recently resigned from the Kremlin chief’s inner circle. Baranov discusses his experience with Putin with a journalist he met who shares Baranov’s admiration for the well-known Russian dystopian novel of the 1920s, “We.” Da Empoli's writing style is engaging and easy to follow, and he does an excellent job of breaking down complex political concepts into simple, understandable terms.
One thing that I particularly appreciated about this book is that it doesn't shy away from discussing controversial topics. Da Empoli doesn't hesitate to delve into the more unsavory aspects of Putin's rule, such as his suppression of political dissent and aggressive foreign policy. However, the author also recognizes that Putin's popularity among Russians stems from his ability to restore a sense of order and stability to a country plagued by chaos in the aftermath of the Soviet collapse. Baranov recounts a discussion with Putin in which the Kremlin leader justifies Stalin’s continued popularity in Russia because Stalin sent millions to labor camps and not despite that fact.
Overall, I found "The Wizard of the Kremlin" to be an insightful and thought-provoking read. Whether you're a casual observer of Russian politics or a seasoned expert, there's something in this book for everyone. Highly recommended!