In an ambitious, detailed comparison, the authors seek to explain, first, why the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia -- and, parenthetically, Czechoslovakia -- disintegrated and, second, why their disintegration led to dramatically different outcomes. To this discussion they add an elaborate evaluation of the (mostly negative) contribution of outsiders, like the United Nations, Europe, and the United States. The authors take history seriously, linking their account to a thorough discussion of twentieth-century antecedents and probing the events under study in depth. The comparison leads them to a nervous sense of Russia's vulnerability to the Yugoslav contagion, but they barely address the question of why this ugly prospect has not materialized.
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