The Showman: Inside the Invasion That Shook the World and Made a Leader of Volodymyr Zelensky (Hardcover)
Acclaimed journalist Simon Shuster gives us the first inside account of the Russian invasion of Ukraine from the perspective of President Volodymyr Zelensky and his team, who granted him unprecedented access.
Time correspondent Simon Shuster chronicles the life and wartime leadership of Volodymyr Zelensky from the dressing rooms of his variety show in Ukraine to the muddy trenches of his war with Russia. Based on four years of reporting; extensive travels with President Zelensky to the front; and dozens of interviews with him, his wife, his friends and enemies, his advisers, ministers and military commanders, The Showman tells an intimate and eye-opening story of the President’s evolution from a slapstick actor to a symbol of resilience, revealing how he managed to rally the world’s democracies behind his cause.
The book’s early chapters offer the first detailed account of Zelensky’s life in a nuclear bunker in the opening weeks of the invasion and the circumstances of his wife’s escape to safety with their children. Later, as the Russians retreat from Kyiv, we see Zelensky and his team emerge from the bunker and lead Ukraine in a series of crucial victories. The result is a riveting, up-close picture of the invasion as experienced by its number one target and improbable hero.
Clear-eyed about the President’s early failures as a peacemaker and his willingness to silence political dissent, the book offers a complex picture of a man struggling to break what he sees as a historical cycle of oppression that began generations before he was born. Even as the war drags on, Zelensky lays out his vision for its future course and, through his actions, demonstrates his strategy for countering the Russians and keeping the West on his side.
The Showman, as a work of eyewitness journalism, provides an essential perspective on the war defining our age. As a study in leadership and human resolve, its appeal is timeless and universal.
Simon Shuster has reported from Russia and Ukraine for 17 years, most of that time as a staff writer for Time Magazine. His coverage of the war began in 2014, when he was the first foreign journalist to arrive in Crimea as Russian troops took over the peninsula. In 2019, he met and interviewed Volodymyr Zelensky for a profile of his presidential campaign, then continued covering his administration in the years that followed, first traveling to the war zone with the President in April 2021, as the Russians gathered their armies at the border. When the full-scale invasion began the following year, Simon spent months embedded with the President’s team, securing unparalleled access to their compound in Kyiv, where he wrote The Showman, his first book.
"An intense, evocative portrait of one of the most remarkable figures of our era. This book offers a front row seat to history as it is being made." — Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Twilight of Democracy
"Shuster’s book is a narrative tour de force that takes us deep behind the scenes of the Ukrainian president’s bunker during the tensest days of Russia’s war against Ukraine. An astonishingly intimate portrayal of the former comedian turned wartime leader battling to save his nation—and Europe—that nevertheless keeps a doggedly honest and critical balance. This is the Zelensky book we’ve been waiting for." — Catherine Belton, international investigative reporter for The Washington Post and author of Putin's People?
"Intimate but unflinchingly objective, this biography gives you a seat at Zelensky's war cabinet and penetrates his mind as he battles to save Ukraine's freedom—and ours." — Peter Pomerantsev, author of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible
"The most intimate portrait of Zelensky, the man at the center of the world drama, painted by one of the best writers in the field, Simon Shuster. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand what Ukrainians are fighting for and why they will prevail." — Serhii Plokhy, author of The Russo-Ukrainian War
"This book is a historical milestone. No journalist in recent memory has had such unique access to the people changing our world in real time. Thanks to Simon Shuster and this brilliant, sincere, and truthful book, readers today—and future generations—will have a chance to learn the inside of this war and to understand Volodymyr Zelensky." — Mikhail Zygar, author of All the Kremlin's Men