Vladimir Putin personifies his country in the eyes of the outside world, and dominates Western media coverage of it to an extraordinary extent. In Russia without Putin, Tony Wood argues that the overwhelming focus on the president and his personality means that we understand Russia less than we ever did before. Exploring the profound social, political, and economic changes the country has undergone since 1991, Wood challenges several of the standard assumptions of Western coverage. In conversation with Keith Gessen.
TONY WOOD is a member of the editorial board of New Left Review and is previously the author of Chechnya: The Case for Independence (2007). His writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, the Guardian and The Nation, among other places.
KEITH GESSEN is a professor of journalism at the Harriman Institute, Columbia, a founding editor of n+1, and a contributor to the New Yorker and the London Review of Books. His latest novel, A Terrible Country, came out from Viking in July. “There are few journalistic books about Russia that take its complexity seriously enough not to fall back on simplistic, essentialist, or Orientalist frameworks. Russia Without Putin is unquestionably one of them. The interpretation it develops should already have been the baseline for a larger discussion, instead of a desperate response to a debate about the Putin menace that has come entirely unmoored from reality. [Russia Without Putin] is not only praiseworthy but vital.” – Greg Afinogenov, *Bookforum*