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The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

By Shashank Joshi   December 2015

The New Tsarby Steven Lee Myers (Simon & Schuster, £20)

In 1969, 17-year-old Vladimir Putin met a girl at his family’s dacha in Tosno, southeast of St Petersburg. A game of spin the bottle resulted in a brief kiss. “I felt so hot all of a sudden,” she recalled, noting his “small, strong hands.”

In those heady days of revolution—cultural in Paris, violent in Prague—the young Putin would listen to clandestine Beatles records, strum his guitar and dream of a career in the KGB.

These flashes of intimacy are rare moments in The…

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