It is probably most appropriate to post this review on the day of the re-inauguration of Vladimir Putin, re-elected as a President of Russian Federation for the third time.
As much as the book is not exactly about Putin, he is still an axis all the events described in the book are pivoting around. The book is a fascinating book in modern history covering last 12 years of developing relations between Russia and the West. It’s a history of failed attempts, misunderstandings, tricks and backstabbing.
I will afford only one quote that may sum up the essence of the narrative (p. 251-252, hard cover edition):
“… the failure of Russia and the West to understand one another and to take one another’s concerns and fears into account. Bush preached and lectured. Putin raged and menaced. America said that Russia must give up its ‘sphere of influence’ in its ‘near abroad’. Russia said that America should stop acting as if it ruled the world. Bush accused Putin of communist-style authoritarianism. Putin accused Bush of Cold War thinking. Both were right.”
If you were thinking whether the Cold War was over, of if it had ever happened, this book is brilliant material to explore the topic from authors first hand account, as well as from the interviews granted by the very participants of the historical events of 1999 to the date.
Extremely highly recommended: The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia