Putin, the Russian Elite and the Future of Russia, by Alex Markman, is an excellent thesis and overview of the culture of Russia from the end of the Czarist era, through Lenin, Stalin et al, and culminating in the dictatorship under Vladimir Putin. This is a very insightful piece of work, for it presents the broader picture to the reader; why Russia, and previously, the USSR, remains a nation incapable of truly fostering a democracy, and why people like Putin, are capable of manipulating a mentality of elitism that has been ingrained into its population; and why every regime since the Leninist period, has inculcated its population with a mentality that the West is the enemy of Russia and that all its problems are caused by the West, even to this very day under the Putin propaganda machinery. The author also does a brilliant job of presenting the backstory on Ukraine, and why the Crimean crisis occurred, and how it is possible that Russia has invaded it today. If you want to get a clearer understanding of what drives the political and ideological machinery of Russia, not just Putin who is merely another in a long line of dictators which the Russian people have bowed to, then read this book. Greater understanding of the Russian dilemma helps one to navigate these troubled times.