In the aftermath of Russia’s 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has risen on the international stage to become a pivotal player in global politics. With noteworthy access to Zelenskyy during Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, Simon Shuster, staff writer for Time magazine and a long-time reporter in Russia and Ukraine, crafts a story of Zelenskyy’s days and weeks around the invasion in this insightful biographical account of the wartime leader and his rise in power.

Alongside the months Shuster spent embedded with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his team in Kyiv after the full-scale invasion began, the biography covers four years of reporting on the president, including travels and interviews with Zelenskyy, as well as interviews with his inner circle and his opponents. From his unique vantage point, Shuster reflects on the critical decisions and believed mistakes within Ukraine’s leadership around Russia’s invasion, and how it could have been prevented.

The Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center hosts a fireside chat with Simon Shuster in conversation with Jacob Heilbrunn, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Eurasia Center, to discuss Shuster’s biography of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, The Showman: Inside the Invasion That Shook the World and Made a Leader of Volodymyr Zelensky, and his insights on the country and its leadership.

What message did Shuster hope to send in the narratives he crafted around Zelenskyy as a wartime leader? And what did he come to understand about Zelenskyy’s transformation?


Simon Shuster
Senior Correspondent
Time Magazine

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The Eurasia Center’s mission is to promote policies that strengthen stability, democratic values, and prosperity in Eurasia, from Eastern Europe in the West to the Caucasus, Russia, and Central Asia in the East.

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