Darryl Cunningham’s last book we reviewed on here was the superb Billionaires – a searingly factual look into the lives of the ultra-rich like Jeff Bezos and Rupert Murdoch. His new book continues this analytical style of narrative and focuses its attention on Russian supremo Vladimir Putin and it follows a similar in depth, yet very approachable style.
Tracing Putin’s life from his early days in the Russian secret service, to his rise to power in the 90s and 00s through to the lengths he goes to in order to hold on to power in the present day, it’s a fascinating and most importantly very readable book. What makes Cunningham’s books so great it that he doesn’t attempt to fictionalise the story in order to make the events more sensational, he simply displays the facts in a logical sequence and allows their extraordinary nature speak for itself. This means you find yourself taking in events like the Skripal poisonings or Kursk submarine disaster in the context of a lengthy power struggle and an attempt to keep hold of his authority at all costs. It also allows Cunningham to juxtapose this thirst for power against the rise of the Russian oligarchs which gets us into similarly territory to Billionaires.
Cunningham’s cartooning style is gloriously simple and so never over clutters the page. His characterisation is both photo real and brilliantly simplistic with only a few lines often used. Yet, he manages to get likenesses and a realism to his characters that are just superb. This means he can use real life images from newspapers that you recognise and so legitimise this story.
The book is quite text heavy in places, but Cunningham balances text and pictures perfectly, giving the story room to breathe and being more info heavy when required. It also isn’t a very preachy read, and like Billionaires Cunningham presents the facts in such a way that you find yourself immersed in his point of view – after all how could you disagree when confronted with such compelling evidence. Putin isn’t portrayed as a cartoonish villain or pantomime bogeyman, and the factual representation of him is much more sinister as a result.
Overall this is a wonderful read, that will leave you better informed at the end of it and wishing that all major world figures had a Darryl Cunningham biography in order for you to learn the most about them you can!