Donald Rayfield

All the President’s Murderers

Putin’s People: How the KGB Took Back Russia and Then Took on the West


William Collins 624pp £25 order from our bookshop

Shadow State: Murder, Mayhem, and Russia’s Remaking of the West


Guardian Faber 324pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia


Granta Books 356pp £20 order from our bookshop

So many competent, sometimes excellent exposés of Vladimir Putin’s crimes and misdemeanours have appeared in English over the last ten years that he himself might consider hiring a ghostwriter to produce a retaliatory diatribe. Catherine Belton’s, Luke Harding’s and Joshua Yaffa’s books share the same view of contemporary Russia, more or less accepting that the country is in the autocratic grip of a mercenary, vindictive, secretive and remorseless dictator, transported like Cinderella from a communal flat with only two hours’ access to a kitchen per day to a palace the previous tenants of which have included Grand Duke Sergei and his wife, one blown up by a socialist revolutionary in 1905, the other buried alive by Bolsheviks in a mine shaft. The three books are complementary, taking different approaches, though there is some overlap: all of them catalogue Putin’s ‘kills’, Russia’s incursions into Ukraine and Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter