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  • Published: 5 July 2022
  • ISBN: 9781847923387
  • Imprint: Bodley Head
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 848
  • RRP: $39.99


The explosive and extraordinary new biography of Russia’s leader

The monumental biography of the most influential leader on the world stage in the last twenty years.

Vladimir Putin is a pariah to the West.

Alone among world leaders, he has the power to reduce the United States and Europe to ashes in a nuclear firestorm and has threatened to do so. He invades his neighbours, most recently Ukraine, meddles in western elections and orders assassinations inside and outside Russia. The regime he heads is autocratic and corrupt.

Yet many Russians continue to support him. Despite western sanctions, the majority have been living better than at any time in the past. By fair means or foul, under Putin's leadership, Russia has once again become a force to be reckoned with.

Philip Short's magisterial biography explores in unprecedented depth the personality of its enigmatic and ruthless leader and demolishes many of our preconceptions about Putin's Russia. Since becoming President in 2000, his obsession has been to restore Russia's status as a great power, unbound by western rules. What forces and experiences shaped him? What led him to challenge the American-led world order that has kept the peace since the end of the Cold War?

To explain is not to justify. Putin's regime is dark. He pursues his goals relentlessly by whatever means he thinks fit. But on closer examination, much of what we think we know about him turns out to rest on half-truths.

This book is as close as we will come to understanding Russia's ruler. It also makes us revise long-held assumptions about the course of global politics since the end of the Cold War.

  • Published: 5 July 2022
  • ISBN: 9781847923387
  • Imprint: Bodley Head
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 848
  • RRP: $39.99

About the author

Philip Short

Philip Short has written authoritative biographies including Mao: A Life and Pol Pot: History of a Nightmare, following a long career as a foreign correspondent for the BBC in Moscow, Washington and other world capitals.

He spent eight years researching and writing this book, working mainly from sources within Russia, but also in Britain, France, the United States and a dozen other countries.

Also by Philip Short

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Praise for Putin

(Praise for Philip Short on Pot Pot): 'A superb, chilling, yet human portrait of a monster'

Simon Sebag Montefiore

(Praise for Philip Short on Pot Pot): 'Extraordinary and brilliant'

The Scotsman

(Praise for Philip Short on Mao): 'A beautifully written, grippingly readable biography... A formidable piece of research'

John Simpson, Sunday Telegraph

(Praise for Philip Short on Mitterand): 'A stunningly detailed investigation of a monumental political character'

The Independent

(Praise for Philip Short on Mitterand): 'Deeply researched and marvellously readable'

Sunday Times

(Praise for Philip Short on Mao): 'It is everything one could hope for: magisterial, beautifully written... and rich in material'


Anyone wanting to learn more about Putin's personality, ideas, power and the threat he has come to pose to world peace should read this outstanding biography

Ian Kershaw

Magisterial... based on access to a Who's Who of senior politicians, diplomats and intelligence sources.


As a chronicle of Putin's public doings, the book is near faultless... [with] some sharply worded insights

The Times

A perfect mirror to its subject... This new biography should be compulsory reading


[Offers] a number of fascinating insights into Putin [among] the massive array of facts on offer

Daily Telegraph

A masterly portrait of one of the most calculating and impenetrable individuals on the world stage

Irish Independent

Short brings to this project extensive research and fluid prose. This book is comprehensive in the best sense, a detailed and meticulous chronicle of Putin's life

Literary Review

Stupendous... The definitive biography of the man, and I do not expect it to be eclipsed as such in my lifetime, or ever

John Evans, US Ambassador and Consul-General in St Petersburg, 1994-7

A monument of information and sober common sense. Of all the books I have read about Putin, this is the most comprehensive and sensible

Rodric Braithwaite, UK Ambassador in Moscow, 1988-1992

Exceptional... unlikely to be matched as a study of the man... It is readable, judicious, critical but balanced and focused on Putin the person rather than on the Putin regime

The Irish Times

Philip Short's timely new biography ... provides a comprehensive, extensively researched account of Putin's life, in the process debunking some of the more tenacious clichés about the Russian leader

New Statesman

Elegantly written and pacy

UK Today News, The Best New Political Books August 2022

I got so absorbed in Philip Short's biography of Putin that I overshot my [train] stop

Adrian Chiles, The Guardian

[A] revealing and compellingly granular biography

Times Literary Supplement

An exhaustive profile

Daily Telegraph, *Books of the Year*


Money Week

[A] meticulously researched biography

Daily Mail