In This Review

Soviet Agriculture
Soviet Agriculture
By Zhores A. Medvedev
Norton, 1988, 464 pp

Medvedev, the eminent Russian scientist now living in London, writes like an insider because of his knowledge both of the Russian past and of the problems that have beset Soviet agriculture since the October Revolution. The first part of the book is summary history, from the prerevolutionary regime to Khrushchev's attempts at reform. The author then reviews the subsequent period (1965-1986) from the standpoint of all the relevant specifics of policy (investment, production, mechanization, fertilizers, incentives, private plots, prices), with a view to explaining the relative success and the continuing failures. The latter were not inevitable, he concludes; alternatives were available. But can the system tolerate the measure of liberalization he sees as necessary?