This massive four-volume study, shepherded to completion by two scholars at the German Foundation for Science and Politics, is a fine-grained exploration of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. It is not a review of what has happened, nor is it an effort to assess where these societies stand in their historic passage from one way of life to another. Rather, it focuses on which groups -- economic, social, political, and foreign -- are important for what reasons, on the evolution of elites, and on the dynamics of subnational and regional units. With the exception of the project directors, nearly all the 50-plus contributors are from the above three countries. All of them -- geographers, economists, sociologists, neophyte political scientists, mostly young, mostly Russian -- are dedicated to in-depth research and modern social science. The results are occasionally curious and amateurish, and the enterprise lacks a compelling integrative framework, but these weaknesses are more than offset by the immense quantity and systematic presentation of important information, accompanied by bright, arresting inside insights.