New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by Timothy M. Frye
Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin's Russia
By: Timothy M. Frye
Media and public discussion tends to understand Russian politics as a direct reflection of Vladimir Putin’s seeming omnipotence or Russia’s unique history and culture. Yet Russia is remarkably similar to other autocracies—and recognizing this illuminates the inherent limits to Putin’s power. Weak Strongman challenges the conventional wisdom about Putin’s Russia, highlighting the difficult trade-offs that confront the Kremlin on issues ranging from election fraud and repression to propaganda and foreign policy.
Drawing on three decades of his own on-the-ground experience and research as well as insights from a new generation of social scientists that have received little attention outside academia, Timothy Frye reveals how much we overlook about today’s Russia when we focus solely on Putin or Russian exceptionalism. Frye brings a new understanding to a host of crucial questions: How popular is Putin? Is Russian propaganda effective? Why are relations with the West so fraught? Can Russian cyber warriors really swing foreign elections? In answering these and other questions, Frye offers a highly accessible reassessment of Russian politics that highlights the challenges of governing Russia and the nature of modern autocracy. Rich in personal anecdotes and cutting-edge social science, Weak Strongman offers the best evidence available about how Russia actually works.
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About the Author:
Timothy Frye is the Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. He is the author of Brokers and Bureaucrats: Building Markets in Russia, which won the 2001 Hewett Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, and Building States and Markets after Communism: The Perils of Polarized Democracy, which won a Best Book Prize from the APSA Comparative Democratization section in 2010, among other publications.
About the Speakers:
Stephen Kotkin is John P. Birkelund '52 Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University. He served on the core editorial committee of the World Politics, flagship journal in comparative politics. He founded and co-edited a book series on Northeast Asia that published six volumes. His latest book is Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941.
Maria Victoria Murillo holds a joint appointment with the Department of Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs and is currently the Director of the Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS) at Columbia University. She is the author of Labor Unions, Partisan Coalitions, and Market Reforms in Latin America.
Keith Gessen is the George T. Delacorte Assistant Professor of Magazine Journalism at Columbia University. He is a founding editor of n+1 and a contributor to The New Yorker and The London Review of Books. He is also the author of a novel All the Sad Young Literary Men.
Gregory J. Wawro is Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. He is the author of Legislative Entrepreneurship in the U.S. House of Representatives and co-author (with Eric Schickler) of Filibuster: Obstruction and Lawmaking in the United States Senate, which is an historical analysis of the causes and consequences of filibusters.