Masha Gessen has a story to tell. This Russian journalist draws the lines clearly and writes in terms that are understandable and inspiring. Gessen tells the story of the ascension of President Putin in The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladamir Putin.
Gessen writes, “And with this, the transformation of Russia back into the USSR was, for all Putin’s intents and purposes, complete.” This sentence, in my mind proves to be the most important sentence in the book. It is also the last. The previous 269 pages set up the trajectories that make this sentence possible. Those pages tell the story of a former KGB spy turned president and deemed the most powerful man in Russia and one of the most influential men in the world.
My aim is not to disrespect the author in any way who has written a fascinating account of the rise of Putin. However, the best and most interesting part of the book takes place in the epilogue. Here, the author reveals her real hopes and fears as she explains the protests that took place in nearly one hundred cities in Russia in December, 2011. The major strokes reveal a deep love of freedom, transparency in the press, and a respect for the heritage of her motherland.
Gessen’s work will no doubt raise questions and answer questions at the same time. It may confirm suspicions. It will inspire hope for a new day in the great mass of land we know as Russia.