This is a rather old-fashioned book of essays. Its sole objective is to describe the character of Putin's political order as accurately as possible, and to spell out why and how Putinism is worrisome. The main essay, while providing a summary account of how Putin came to power and consolidated his position as Russia's virtual dictator, evaluates Putinism in terms of the main models or metaphors that have been summoned up to explain it: gangsterism, patrimonialism, reversion to Communism or to "Communist totalitarianism," oil-centeredness, fascism, and repressive modernization. In varying degrees and different ways it finds some merit in most of those comparisons but concludes that Putinism, in essence, is about as close to fascist as a system can be without being expressly fascist. In this respect Putinism closely resembles the repressive modernizing regimes that took shape in countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Iran, Argentina, and Brazil during the Cold War period. Its fascist pulse need not but could turn dangerous--a problem mainly for western Europe, which has had trouble coming to terms with the situation.