Vladimir Putin has the power to reduce the United States and Europe to ashes in a nuclear firestorm. He invades his neighbours, most recently Ukraine, meddles in western elections and orders assassinations inside and outside Russia.
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 demolishes many of our preconceptions about Putin's Russia and explores in unprecedented depth the personality of its enigmatic and ruthless leader. 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?