Fiona Hill is director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, where she is the Stephen and Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy.
Clifford G. Gaddy is a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development programs at the Brookings Institution.
Hill and Gaddy are the coauthors of The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold (Brookings).
Handpicked as a successor by the "family" surrounding an ailing and increasingly unpopular Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin seemed like a perfect choice for the oligarchy to shape according to its own designs. Suddenly the boy who had stood in the shadows, dreaming of ruling the world, was a public figure, and his popularity soared. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see the progressive leader of their dreams, even as he seized control of media, sent political rivals and critics into exile or to the grave, and smashed the country's fragile electoral system, concentrating power in the hands of his cronies.
As a journalist living in Moscow, Masha Gessen experienced this history firsthand, and for The Man Without a Face she has drawn on information and sources no other writer has tapped. Her account of how a "faceless" man maneuvered his way into absolute—and absolutely corrupt—power is the definitive biography of Vladimir Putin.