cover image Accidental Czar: The Life and Lies of Vladimir Putin

Accidental Czar: The Life and Lies of Vladimir Putin

Andrew S. Weiss and Brian “Box” Brown. First Second, $28.99 (272 p) ISBN 978-1-250-76075-3

Weiss, a Russia analyst and former White House adviser, and cartoonist Brown (Child Star) shred Vladimir Putin’s hypermasculine persona in this witty and incisive graphic biography. The Putin of these pages is less of a mastermind and more of a man constantly on the defensive and ruled by paranoia, whose attempts at fomenting discord occasionally grant him short-term advantages. Focusing on the constant political maneuvering behind Putin’s ascension from low-level KGB bureaucrat in the 1980s to global chaos agent, Weiss argues that Putin operates in a country founded on grift: “What we think of as corruption is actually the glue that holds everything together.” Russia’s invasions of neighboring countries, notably Ukraine, are framed as part of Putin’s strategy to gird the country from perceived Western aggression, which he believes has driven seismic protests like the Arab Spring. Weiss’s enjoyable and digestible unwinding of Putin’s labyrinthine history is complemented by Brown’s wry, stripped-down comics. Readers scrambling to understand shifting global politics will appreciate this accessible takedown of a larger-than-life figure. (Nov.)