No One Man Should Have All That Power: How Rasputins Manipulate the World

No One Man Should Have All That Power: How Rasputins Manipulate the World

An exploration of infamous, controversial figures and how they exert control. Amos Barshad has long been fascinated by the powerful. But not by elected officials or natural leaders—he’s interested in their scheming advisors, the dark figures who wield power in the shadows. And, as Barshad shows in No One Man Should Have All That Power, the natural habitat of these manipula...

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Title:No One Man Should Have All That Power: How Rasputins Manipulate the World
Author:Amos Barshad
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No One Man Should Have All That Power: How Rasputins Manipulate the World Reviews

  • Andrew

    *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

    No One Man Should Have All That Power got my attention for two main reasons. The first is that one of my favorite writers, Shea Serrano, did the blurb on the front and the other was that the reference to a Kanye West song made me laugh. Then I read the description and decided I was all in. I didn’t realize I could be more all in until I saw that the author was going to frame all of his dis

    *I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

    No One Man Should Have All That Power got my attention for two main reasons. The first is that one of my favorite writers, Shea Serrano, did the blurb on the front and the other was that the reference to a Kanye West song made me laugh. Then I read the description and decided I was all in. I didn’t realize I could be more all in until I saw that the author was going to frame all of his discussions of people in the background with power by using Rasputin as the model. Rasputin has always been a fascinating figure to me (although I am not as obsessed and thorough as the author was) and being able to learn more about him and his life and then using it as a tool to evaluate others was something that worked perfectly for me.

    I think the first thing to be open about is that since each chapter features a different person and area of power, there are some chapters that are just intrinsically going to be more interesting to an individual than others. That said, I found myself being pleasantly surprised by several of the chapters that I initially thought would be some of the less interesting. This is the type of book that I would learn something interesting, about a publishing Rasputin for example, and immediately want to turn to Alyssa to share the interesting thing I had learned. I do not think there was a single chapter that I found to be uninteresting and more than half the chapters I was enthralled with.

    The book is written in a way that is accessible. I felt like I was learning a ton about these individuals and ever chapter was clearly well researched, but it read very smoothly and not at all like a textbook which I appreciated. Barshad had also clearly prepared for the type of people he would be talking to and is incredibly thoughtful and transparent about his process as he writes about each “Rasputin.” I found I couldn’t stop reading halfway through a chapter and often wanted to push on right to the next one.

    Overall, I thought the book was excellent. The topic itself was super interesting and the people chosen to be covered were each interesting in their own unique ways. I found the book incredibly easy to read and felt like I had learned some interesting things both in areas I already had some familiarity with and in others that I previously knew nothing about. If you have interest in people who peddle in power (especially behind the scenes) this is definitely a book worth checking out!

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  • Chyina Powell

    I received this book as an ARC in order for an honest review. And so, I have decided to share it with you all on Goodreads!

    "No One Man Can Have All That Power" is a nonfiction book written by Amos Barshad after his in-depth pursuit at Rasputinism in popular culture. He first gives us an idea as to the truth behind Grigori Rasputin and how one Siberian peasant could hold the hearts of the Tsar and Tsarina. Barshad follows this with a look at various Rasputins in today's culture, people who work

    I received this book as an ARC in order for an honest review. And so, I have decided to share it with you all on Goodreads!

    "No One Man Can Have All That Power" is a nonfiction book written by Amos Barshad after his in-depth pursuit at Rasputinism in popular culture. He first gives us an idea as to the truth behind Grigori Rasputin and how one Siberian peasant could hold the hearts of the Tsar and Tsarina. Barshad follows this with a look at various Rasputins in today's culture, people who work from behind the scenes, whispering in the ears of the public and influential, guiding them, manipulating them.

    From sports, to musicians, to the presidents of three different countries, including both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump. Who is the real power behind some of our favorite superstars? And why have they chosen to stay in the background instead of using their influence to propel themselves into the limelight? Barshad answers these questions and more, even giving a list of what makes a master manipulator, a Rasputin if you will.

    I loved this book! It was quite fun to read and I am sure anyone interested in popular culture or psychology or sociology will be as fascinated as I was. Check it out!

  • Bobby Warshaw

    Love this! I finished it in two days. It's the perfect of blend of factual reporting + quick, conversational writing. You'll definitely read it and want to tell your friends about the stories you picked up.

  • Mike Syku

    I won this from Goodreads Giveaways.

    Witty, fun, and interesting, this book starts by giving a loose framework for how we should think about an archetypal Rasputin. The vast majority of the book is a breezy, surface-level look at a bunch of examples throughout the world, in various industries and fields.

    The writing really elevates this book for me. It's a delight to read Barshad's conversational takes on many of these puppet-master types. It's also a relief to see that Barshad doesn't take his "

    I won this from Goodreads Giveaways.

    Witty, fun, and interesting, this book starts by giving a loose framework for how we should think about an archetypal Rasputin. The vast majority of the book is a breezy, surface-level look at a bunch of examples throughout the world, in various industries and fields.

    The writing really elevates this book for me. It's a delight to read Barshad's conversational takes on many of these puppet-master types. It's also a relief to see that Barshad doesn't take his "theory" too seriously. The book explores the various ways people manipulate each other through multiple lenses, which allows the author to wander a bit from his 7 "rules" on what makes a person a Rasputin. I was much more interested in the manipulators who didn't tick all the boxes, and the author freely examines why certain people in certain situations fail or succeed using his loose paradigm. That being said, its also fantastic that Barshad doesnt seem to take himself too seriously either.

    A charming quick read for a crash course in manipulative people in modern times.

  • Steve

    Disclaimer: I received this book as part of GoodReads' First Reads program.

    Those who know a little bit of pre-Soviet Russian history know about Rasputin and his alleged control of Czar Nicholas and Czarina Alexandria. This book examines his story, and goes on to examine a variety of modern Rasputins who have been manipulators in various fields like pop music, literature, politics, among others. Very readable and interesting, I would recommend this book highly.

  • Tonstant Weader

    No One Man Should Have All That Power is a headlong race through the history of Rasputinism–the power of being the power behind the “throne” in government, music, film, and sports. Amos Barshad identifies seven principles of a Rasputin. They control others, their control is controversial, eliciting enemies. They have a larger personal agenda. They control only a few, powerful people. They work behind the scenes and lack the ability to carry out their plans on their own.

    With a breezy wit, Barshad

    No One Man Should Have All That Power is a headlong race through the history of Rasputinism–the power of being the power behind the “throne” in government, music, film, and sports. Amos Barshad identifies seven principles of a Rasputin. They control others, their control is controversial, eliciting enemies. They have a larger personal agenda. They control only a few, powerful people. They work behind the scenes and lack the ability to carry out their plans on their own.

    With a breezy wit, Barshad races through the real Rasputin, the various Rasputins of popular culture and history, and circles back to the historic Rasputin once again, this time going beyond the history written by his murderer, to a more nuanced and true history. Perhaps even Rasputin is no Rasputin.

    No One Man Should Have All That Power is an enjoyable overview of the various people who have found power through other people’s talents and power. This makes perfect sense with the wannabes of politics and government. However, when he suggests that great editors, directors, or music producers are Rasputins, that they are the power “behind” the throne, I think he misunderstands those art forms. Who is more powerful than a great director. Stanley Kubrick was a greater power and will be known farther into the future than Tom Cruise, no matter how much he got Cruise to do for him. Great music producers put the artist with the song and the musicians that produce magic the singers cannot achieve on their own. And editing is an art form, it is not proofreading, it goes far beyond that. Gordon Lish made more than one writer better than he was. These people were artists in their own right, powers on their own particular thrones.

    Even though I thought his thesis was little more than a good hook to hang a story on and a great excuse to travel and interview people, I enjoyed his breezy style and his stories of the manipulative and their victims. He suggests no one who wants to be Rasputin can succeed with Trump, suggesting no one can manipulate him long term. He looks at Kushner and Bannon, but he really should have looked Mick Mulvaney. He does not make the mistake of claiming to control Trump, but he controls Trump. I thought the book was enjoyable, but scratching the surface, looking at the obvious, and missing the real thing.

    No One Man Should Have All That Power will be released April 9th. I received a copy from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.

    No One Man Should Have All That Power at Abrams Books

    Amos Barshad author site

    ★★★★

  • Phil

    This was an enjoyable exploration of Rasputin characters in many different worlds and contexts. I appreciated diving into the world's of music and short stories. The longer sections on Rasputins in politics and near recent world leaders was not as repetitive as I thought it would be. There were nuggets of insight that I hadn't gained from simply paying attention to the news. A very fun and short read that left me wanting more from some of the smaller worlds Amos introduced me to, which is probab

    This was an enjoyable exploration of Rasputin characters in many different worlds and contexts. I appreciated diving into the world's of music and short stories. The longer sections on Rasputins in politics and near recent world leaders was not as repetitive as I thought it would be. There were nuggets of insight that I hadn't gained from simply paying attention to the news. A very fun and short read that left me wanting more from some of the smaller worlds Amos introduced me to, which is probably the perfect place to leave me.

  • Brandt

    Gregori Rasputin is someone I consider to be one of the most intriguing figures in history, so when I heard that Amos Barshad had written a book about "Rasputins" (the shadowy figures behind those in power) I definitely put it on my "must read" list. As someone who has been reading comic books

    , I'm definitely used to these conspiracies of the real power behind the power, so to get my hands on a book about real life behind-the-scenes-operators in the mold of Rasputin was definitely someth

    Gregori Rasputin is someone I consider to be one of the most intriguing figures in history, so when I heard that Amos Barshad had written a book about "Rasputins" (the shadowy figures behind those in power) I definitely put it on my "must read" list. As someone who has been reading comic books

    , I'm definitely used to these conspiracies of the real power behind the power, so to get my hands on a book about real life behind-the-scenes-operators in the mold of Rasputin was definitely something I

    to read.

    Unfortunately, this book was a mild disappointment. While promising that each chapter is a case study identifying a "Rasputin" and how they operate, it ends up going off the rails fairly early in the book. Barshad sets "rules" for how a "Rasputin" should be and then tries to fit his different case studies to the rules. Except eventually he gets around to discussing both the "Rasputins" of the current president and the former president only to explain that they don't exist (the former is too stupid and impulsive to have them, the latter too smart and contemplative.) This unfortunately railroads the entire book, and makes it more like Barshad exploring a theme just so he can talk about Trump and Obama (Trump himself takes up about a quarter of the book) and even then it seems like he just wants to tell us how stupid Trump is--Obama can't be "Rasputined" because he thinks too much, but the current president is immune because he barely thinks at all. So if your expectation is that you are going to read about Rasputin and Rasputin types, you're probably going to be disappointed.

    While this book did point me to Douglas Smith's Rasputin biography (which is new on my "must read" list) this book didn't really live up to my expectations. I wanted to learn about Rasputins, not who they're

    .

  • Jon Zuckerman

    I love the concept and learned about some people I didn't know before (and more about some I did), but the fact that my favorite parts of the book were the casual bits where he describes the environment in which his interviews took place (and I wish he wrote more! How the interviewees respond to questions about their perceived Rasputinism is fascinating!) probably means that this book didn't go nearly as in-depth as I wanted it to go. A nice consolidation of articles related to the people in the

    I love the concept and learned about some people I didn't know before (and more about some I did), but the fact that my favorite parts of the book were the casual bits where he describes the environment in which his interviews took place (and I wish he wrote more! How the interviewees respond to questions about their perceived Rasputinism is fascinating!) probably means that this book didn't go nearly as in-depth as I wanted it to go. A nice consolidation of articles related to the people in the book, but I could have just read the articles themselves and got 90% of the information in this book. I think Barshad is talented and I loved his work at Grantland but I was slightly disappointed with this one.

  • Clare Fitzgerald

    One downside of cramming books on a deadline is that if I don't write the review of a book before book club, then I never want to write it at all, because I've already talked out all my thoughts. Thus, I have committed myself to informing Goodreads that I have read

    's

    , and I should probably jot down a few thoughts so that in five years when someone asks me if I've read it and I say "Yes" and they say "What di

    One downside of cramming books on a deadline is that if I don't write the review of a book before book club, then I never want to write it at all, because I've already talked out all my thoughts. Thus, I have committed myself to informing Goodreads that I have read

    's

    , and I should probably jot down a few thoughts so that in five years when someone asks me if I've read it and I say "Yes" and they say "What did you think?" I can look it up, but I don't really want to.

    Part of this is also because it wasn't a hugely memorable book. Barshad's criteria for what constitutes Rasputinism works fine as a framing device but it's not really a mind-expanding bit of political theory. The book is mostly just Barshad interviewing a bunch of people whose jobs involve influencing other people, from music producers to political aides, and then going off to Moscow to have slightly surreal adventures visiting the historical Rasputin's apartment.

    Many of the bits of the book were quite interesting or quite entertaining, even if they don't all fit together into one work very well. There's a chapter about a female newspaper reporter and a female narcotrafficker which sounds like the basis for a kickass TV show; the chapter on Tom Brady's masseuse/personal quack doctor is also pretty bananas, although there's also a Sawbones episode about him that I think is slightly stronger. The chapter on the "Rasputinism" of editors certainly provides a bit of insight into why the book is so loosely edited, as well.

    The strongest parts of the book were the bits about the actual historical Rasputin. The weakest bit was about Steve Bannon. I've read entirely too many profiles of Steve Bannon, and there are basically two kinds: Ones where the profiler is suckered into being impressed with Bannon's having read multiple books in his 65 years of befouling God's green earth just because he can pretentiously string a bunch of references together, and

    . Barshad, I regret to report, has fallen into the trap of describing Bannon as "crazily" well-read just because he can name-drop a handful of racist occultists. Meanwhile, yours truly here is still waiting for even one credulous journalist to show up and write a fawning profile of me as an evil genius, and I've been able to spout bollocks about bigoted old occultists since I was 15. (I could probably spout bollocks about Evola specifically these days, too, and I haven't actually read him yet.)

    On the other hand, I didn't realize until reading this book that the song "Ra Ra Rasputin" sounds like '70s disco because it actually is '70s disco, not a recent attempt at sounding retro, so perhaps I am too dim to talk to journalists even if they inexplicably wanted to talk to me.

    Overall I feel this book was mostly worth my time only because of book club, which featured bacon and egg cups, apples with brie and garlic jam, and cider cocktails. Also I made scones.

    Originally posted at

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