The Social Legacy of Communism
By James R. Millar and Sharon L. Wolchik
Cambridge University Press/ Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1994, 404 pp.
This fine volume hopefully will be the first in a series of studies on the social consequences of communism, a subject greatly neglected during the Cold War while attention was focused on throw-weights and the Politburo. Relying on extensive empirical data like the Soviet Interview Project, which queried recent émigrés, the volume looks at the Soviet legacy of ethnic consciousness, crime, drug abuse, health, family structure, religious belief, and social stratification. Some of the findings are truly astounding, such as the statistics on increasing levels of mortality throughout the Eastern bloc during the 1980s chronicled in the chapter by Nicholas Eberstadt. These findings make clear how seriously communism was misjudged and are invaluable to understanding how civil society can reconstruct itself in the East.