ZelenskyÂ is the first major biography of Ukraine’s leader written for a Western audience.
Told with flair and authority, it is the gripping story of oneÂ of the most admired and inspirational leaders in the world.
Action-packed biography of Ukraine’s comedian-turned-President
Millions who have admired Volodymyr Zelensky’s defiance during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will learn much from this up-to-date biography of the Ukrainian President.
Zelensky’s life to date has been packed with drama and action.
By the age of 20, the Jewish boy from the provincialÂ town of Kryvyi Rih had become a star of the stage.
- At 30, he headed a multimillion-dollar TV company.
- At 40, he took on Ukraine’s corrupt political and businessÂ elite in a TV drama, playing a history teacher who becomes President.Â
- Then he launched a real-life political party named after the TV show, won a landslide victory and became Ukraine’s real President.
- When Russian troops flooded across the border, Zelensky refused Western offers to leave Kyiv. He has marshalled Ukraine’s resistanceÂ and successfully obtained Western missile systems and anti-tank weapons.
Zelensky said: ‘If I am elected, they will first sling mud at me.Â Then they will learn to respect me. And finally cry whenÂ I leave.’
ZelenskyÂ is written by a long-standing Russia and Ukraine reporter and a Russian- and Ukrainian speaking researcher.Â It’s a pithy biography of Zelensky for anyone who wantsÂ to understand Ukraine’s charismatic head of state, hisÂ complex country, and its vexed relationship with Russia.
Covering Zelensky’s life from his childhood to the Ukrainian presidency, Zelensky deals with his background in a Russian-speaking region of Ukraine, his early career in TV taking part in KVN talent competitions, and his rise through the Ukrainian and Russian television industry.
Then it deals with Zelensky’s breakthrough moment inÂ the TV series Servant of the People playing a teacher who dreams of reforming Ukraine and ending its corruption.Â The show becomes a reality and Zelensky’s party, Servant of the People, takes power.
Zelensky’s presidency is marred by his attempts to curry favour with the US President Donald Trump and the offshoring of millions of dollars.
Nonetheless, Zelensky battles political rivals and takes onÂ powerful vested interests in Europe’s second-largest country. Then with his doggedness, speeches and strategy, he marshals Ukraine’s staunch resistance to a superpower – a fight that most analysts assume Russia will quickly win. But they do not – and Ukraine starts to turn the tide of the war.
Zelensky and his country become symbols of defiance against Vladimir Putin’s aggression.Â Zelensky: A Biography of Ukraine’s War LeaderÂ is both an uplifting story and an urgent message from Ukraine.
About the authors
STEVEN DERIX is a journalist at the Dutch newspaper NRC.Â From 2014 to 2020 he was NRC correspondent for Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
MARINA SHELKUNOVA studied journalism and was a researcher and coordinator forÂ NRCÂ andÂ De Standaard.
In April 2019, Volodymyr Zelensky was elected as the sixthÂ President of Ukraine, with nearly three-quarters of the vote.
One month later, the Russian President attended the WorldÂ Economic Forum in St. Petersburg. It had been five years sinceÂ Russia’s annexation of Crimea but daily skirmishes betweenÂ the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists were stillÂ commonplace in eastern Ukraine.
‘Why did you not congratulate Volodymyr Zelenksy when heÂ became President?’ asked the interviewer.
Putin breathed a heavy sigh. The Russian officials and businessÂ magnates in the room playfully nudged one another: this wasÂ going to be good…
Putin gave the enormous hall an almost pitying look and waited until the sniggering had died down… ‘Listen, I do not knowÂ this man. I hope that we can meet one day. As far as I can tell,Â he’s amazing at what he does, he’s a marvellous actor.’
Putin continued: ‘But seriously: it’s one thing to play a person, but quite another thing to be that person.’
Laughter and generous applause filled the room.
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