S. Adam Cardais, Transitions Online, March 8, 2012
In politics, personal narrative is key. Vladimir Putin has had a unique opportunity to shape his story thanks to his KGB career.
“Possibly the most bizarre fact about Putin’s ascent to power is that the people who lifted him to the throne knew little more about him than you do,” Russian journalist Masha Gessen writes in her new book, The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.
In an excellent promotional Fresh Air interview on National Public Radio (NPR) last week, Gessen explains that Putin exploited that void to spin the story of a young street tough that grew into a temperamental, bellicose man.
“When he spoke to his first and only official biographers in the early 2000s, he mostly concentrated on describing his street fights and on portraying himself as someone who is aggressive, vengeful and has a lot of trouble controlling his temper,” she says.
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Who is Vladimir Putin?