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The Showman: Inside the Invasion That Shook the World and Made a Leader of Volodymyr Zelensky (Hardcover)
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!
"Shuster crafts an intimate account of the Russian invasion, which vividly captures Zelensky’s transformation from a clean-cut funnyman into a war hero out of central casting." --New York Times Book Review; Editors' Choice Selection
“The Showman surpasses all similar efforts to date and is set to be the standard by which all other works on Mr. Zelensky and Ukraine’s wartime politics will be judged." —Wall Street Journal
A monumental account of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the forging of a leader, The Showman provides an insider’s perspective on the war reshaping our world, based on unprecedented access to Volodymyr Zelensky and the high command in Kyiv.
Time correspondent Simon Shuster chronicles the life and leadership of Volodymyr Zelensky from the dressing rooms of his variety shows to the muddy trenches of Ukraine’s war with Russia. Based on four years of reporting; extensive travels with President Zelensky to the front; and dozens of interviews with him, his wife, his friends and enemies, his advisers, ministers and military commanders, Shuster tells the intimate and revealing story of the president’s evolution from a slapstick actor to a symbol of resilience.
In their most candid accounts of the war so far, members of Zelensky’s inner circle show how the president’s character changed under the strains of leadership and the horrors he witnessed each day. His wife, First Lady Olena Zelenska, describes her escape from Kyiv with their children, her life on the run, and the tensions that emerged in her marriage as she struggled to return to a meaningful role in the administration. Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valery Zaluzhny, shares the untold story of his fraught relationship with the president and the subsequent consequences.
Reflecting on their own regrets and critical decisions, Zelensky and his senior aides open up about the causes of the Russian invasion and how it may have been avoided. They describe with astonishing frankness how their peace talks with Vladimir Putin fell apart and how their faith in the U.S. faltered, both under Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
The Showman provides the first inside account of Zelensky’s life amid the invasion, offering a clear-eyed view of his failures to prepare for it and his willingness to silence dissent under martial law. What emerges is a complex picture of a man struggling to break what he sees as a historical cycle of oppression that began generations before he was born. Even as the war drags on, Zelensky lays out his vision for its future course and, through his actions, demonstrates his strategy for countering the Russians and keeping the West on his side.
The Showman, as a work of eyewitness journalism, provides an essential perspective on the war defining our age, resulting in a riveting, vivid portrait of the invasion as experienced by its number one target and improbable hero.
About the Author
Simon Shuster has reported from Russia and Ukraine for 17 years, most of that time as a staff writer for Time Magazine. His coverage of the war began in 2014, when he was the first foreign journalist to arrive in Crimea as Russian troops took over the peninsula. In 2019, he met and interviewed Volodymyr Zelensky for a profile of his presidential campaign, then continued covering his administration in the years that followed, first traveling to the war zone with the President in April 2021, as the Russians gathered their armies at the border. When the full-scale invasion began the following year, Simon spent months embedded with the President’s team, securing unparalleled access to their compound in Kyiv, where he wrote The Showman, his first book.
"The Showman surpasses all similar efforts to date and is set to be the standard by which all other works on Mr. Zelensky and Ukraine’s wartime politics will be judged." — Wall Street Journal
"Using interviews with the Ukrainian president, his closest associates and his critics, Shuster crafts an intimate account of the Russian invasion, which vividly captures Zelensky’s transformation from a clean-cut funnyman into a war hero out of central casting." — New York Times Book Review
"[A]uthoritative and engaging . . . [Shuster] writes with clarity and immediacy about matters that could easily descend into centuries of history and reams of military strategy. The Showman has plenty of both, but always in the service of a tight narrative that deftly toggles from past to present and back again. . . . Shuster does readers the ultimate service. He makes them feel smart. . . . The Showman is first-rate long-form journalism." — San Francisco Chronicle
"[A] definitive, thoroughly researched and deeply insightful biography . . . The Showman is a far more intimate and much better informed biography than most politicians get from journalists. Shuster is an honest and frank biographer, thoroughly equipped for the job." — The Guardian
"[An] intimate biography . . . [A] brilliant piece of extended reportage." — London Times
"Fascinating. Powerful. Important. This book is an illuminating profile of Zelensky’s courage and an expert study of the fraught relationship between Russia and Ukraine." — Library Journal (starred review)
"An intense, evocative portrait of one of the most remarkable figures of our era. This book offers a front row seat to history as it is being made." — Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Twilight of Democracy
"Shuster’s book is a narrative tour de force that takes us deep behind the scenes of the Ukrainian president’s bunker during the tensest days of Russia’s war against Ukraine. An astonishingly intimate portrayal of the former comedian turned wartime leader battling to save his nation—and Europe—that nevertheless keeps a doggedly honest and critical balance. This is the Zelensky book we’ve been waiting for." — Catherine Belton, international investigative reporter for The Washington Post and author of Putin's People
"Intimate but unflinchingly objective, this biography gives you a seat at Zelensky's war cabinet and penetrates his mind as he battles to save Ukraine's freedom—and ours." — Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible
"The most intimate portrait of Zelensky, the man at the center of the world drama, painted by one of the best writers in the field, Simon Shuster. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand what Ukrainians are fighting for and why they will prevail." — Serhii Plokhy, author of The Russo-Ukrainian War
"This book is a historical milestone. No journalist in recent memory has had such unique access to the people changing our world in real time. Thanks to Simon Shuster and this brilliant, sincere, and truthful book, readers today—and future generations—will have a chance to learn the inside of this war and to understand Volodymyr Zelensky." — Mikhail Zygar, author of All the Kremlin's Men
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