Time correspondent Simon Shuster’s “The Showman” demonstrates how Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky’s masterful knowledge of PR tactics and the power of propaganda transformed him from comedian into a respected world leader.

Zelensky recognized that wars are fought in the minds of men and women long before the shooting starts.

“He knew the power and the danger of persuasion, and he knew that long before the Russian tanks crossed the borders of Ukraine, the Kremlin had waged its war through propaganda, seeking to convince anyone who speaks the Russian language that Ukraine does not exist, that its leaders are resurrected Nazis in disguise, serving the treacherous aims of the West against Russia,” wrote Shuster.

It was a repeat of Soviet propaganda that Joseph Stalin used during the 1930s that enabled the Kremlin to murder millions of Ukrainians by stealing their harvests.

Though Putin’s propaganda machine churned out sheer madness, the lies that it endlessly repeated began to take hold.

Complete control over the media channels enabled Putin to send tens of thousands of Russian men into the Ukrainian meat grinder.

They killed and died in Ukraine without triggering major backlash from families and citizens back home.

To counter Putin, Zelensky stuck to his strengths: mass media, foreign affairs, global pitchman for military aid and serving as cheerleader who urged Ukrainians to resist the Russian invasion.

In the early going of the war, he left military matters up to his generals and focused his attention on appearing on Ukrainian state TV.

As Zelensky began to feel more comfortable with the trappings of the presidency, he began to assert himself in military affairs, often to the detriment of Ukraine’s armed forces.

He ruthlessly restricted the actions of parliament, instituted curfews, cracked down on domestic political opponents, and shut down hostile media outlets.

Shuster believes Zelensky will face the ultimate challenge once the war ends, or a prolonged stalemate sets in.

He’s unsure how the president will handle the “return to life in a constitutional democracy with regular elections and freedom of the press.”

Shuster, who is of Russian and Ukrainian descent, began covering Ukraine in 2014 after Russia took over Crimea. He first met Zelensky in 2019 for a profile on his presidential campaign.

The Time writer traveled with Zelensky to the war zone in 2019 and was embedded with his team during the first year of the war with Russia.

The Showman includes a quote from Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, which offers high praise for Ukraine’s leader.

“Even through Zelensky is the president of a country hostile to Russia at the moment, he is still a strong, confident, pragmatic and likable guy,” said Prigozhin, a crazed killer of thousands of Ukrainian troops who ultimately was murdered by Putin.

Shuster has written an insider look at Ukraine’s president that is a great read for PR people.