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29Jun

Zelensky: A Biography; Putin: His Life and Times reviews

Striking biographies by Serhii Rudenko and Philip Short pit Ukraine’s comic actor turned wartime hero against Russia’s pragmatic, inscrutable insider

Volodymyr Zelenskiy is perhaps the closest thing to a mythical hero modern politics has to offer. Ukraine’s courageous wartime president captured the world’s imagination with his haunting, straight-to-camera monologues delivered under bombardment. A comic actor turned leader of the resistance, his story is a political fairytale. But is it almost too good to be true?

Truth and fiction collide in the Ukrainian journalist Serhii Rudenko’s quirky and fascinating biography, describing how a man best known for playing a teacher who unexpectedly becomes head of state subsequently did something similar himself.

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