In Putin’s Labyrinth, acclaimed journalist Steve LeVine, who lived in and reported from the former Soviet Union for more than a decade, provides a gripping account of modern Russia. President Dmitri Medvedev and the country’s real power, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, are posing a resolute challenge to the West. In a penetrating narrative that recounts the lives and deaths of six Russians, LeVine portrays the growth of a “culture of death”—from targeted assassinations of the state’s enemies to the Kremlin’s indifference when innocent hostages are slaughtered. Interviews with eyewitnesses and the families and friends of these victims reveal how Russians manage to negotiate their way around the ever-present danger of violence and the emotional toll that this lethal maze is exacting on ordinary people. The result is a fresh way of assessing the forces that are driving this major new confrontation with the West.