Hewett's masterly study does much more than sketch out the Gorbachev reform plans adopted in July 1987 and speculate on their chances of success. It gives a clear description of the Soviet economy since Stalin's time, both the formal economy and the system as it actually operates. He analyzes the earlier attempts at reform (those of Khrushchev, the Kosygin reforms of 1965, and the later ones in the 1970s); these efforts largely failed, but an understanding of them and why they failed helps to explain the magnitude and risks of Gorbachev's task. Among other things, Hewett argues, Gorbachev has to find a tolerable balance between improved economic performance and the widespread desire in Soviet society for equality and security, for to have both in full measure is impossible. Hewett's book invites comparison with other recent studies on the subject. In general he digs deeper, is clearer in analysis, and is cautious about predicting the future.