Putin and the Return of History: How the Kremlin Rekindled the Cold War (Hardback)
  • Putin and the Return of History: How the Kremlin Rekindled the Cold War (Hardback)
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Putin and the Return of History: How the Kremlin Rekindled the Cold War (Hardback)

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Hardback 368 Pages
Published: 18/01/2024
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Waterstones Says

This eye-opening volume explores the Ukraine war and the change in Putin’s take on West – from the early days of his presidency as an advocate of the free-market and democracy to his current imperialist nationalism – in the context of Russia’s thousand-year past.

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has reshaped history. In the decades after the collapse of Soviet communism, the West convinced itself that liberal democracy would henceforth be the dominant, ultimately unique, system of governance. An outburst of Western triumphalism proclaimed a US-led unipolar world entitled to ‘impose democracy’ on countries that failed to recognise the new order.

Politicians foretold the universalisation of Western values as the final, enduring form of human society, a hubris that shaped how the West would treat Russia for the next two decades. But history wasn’t over. Subsequent events proved it is unwise to make predictions, especially about the future. In February 2022, Vladimir Putin took great delight in proving it.

Putin is a paradox. In the early years of his presidency, he appeared to commit himself to friendship with the West, suggesting that Russia could join the European Union or even NATO. He said he supported free-market democracy and civil rights. But the Putin of those years is unrecognisable today.

The Putin of the 2020s is an autocratic nationalist, dedicated to repression at home and anti-Western militarism abroad. So, what happened? Was he lying when he proclaimed his support for freedom, democracy and friendship with the West? Or, was he sincere? Did he change his views at some stage between then and now? And if that is the case, what happened to change him?

Putin and the Return of History examines these questions in the context of Russia’s thousand-year past, tracing the forces and the myths that have shaped Putin’s politics of aggression: the enduring terror of encirclement by outsiders, the subjugation of the individual to the cause of the state, the collectivist values that allow the sacrifice of human lives in battle, the willingness to lie and deceive, the co-opting of religion and the belief in Great Russia’s mission to change the world.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781399409865
Number of pages: 368
Dimensions: 234 x 153 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Clear, lively, and not afraid to be controversial: a stimulating anatomisation of Russia’s poisonous relationship with the West, Ukraine, and its own dark past. - Anna Reid, author of Borderland: A Journey through the History of Ukraine and A Dirty Little War

This is a very important account of the build-up to Russia’s invasions of Ukrainian territory. Most books and articles on the Russia-Ukraine war are very one-sided; the great merit of this book is that the Sixsmiths take a long historical perspective and enable the reader to appreciate the aspirations of both sides. The authors focus on the defects of Western societies as well as on those of Russia. This is a study that needs to be taken into account when we try to understand the lessons of the war. - Geoffrey Hosking, Emeritus Professor of Russian History, University College London

A fascinating and highly readable account of the background to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, informed by Martin Sixsmith’s long involvement with the region since his days as a BBC correspondent covering the last days of the Soviet Union. - Peter Conradi, author of Who Lost Russia? From the Collapse of the USSR to Putin's War on Ukraine

A tremendous study of how Putin has tragically manipulated national myths for personal gain and revanchist patriotism. - Starred Review, Kirkus Review

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