In This Review

Kapitalizm: Russia's Struggle to Free Its Economy
Kapitalizm: Russia's Struggle to Free Its Economy
By Rose Brady
Yale University Press, 1999, 320 pp
Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe, 1989-1998
Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe, 1989-1998
By Janine R. Wedel
St. Martin's Press, 1998, 288 pp

Two impressive and informative accounts of the agonies of economic reform in Russia. Brady, Business Week's former Moscow correspondent, takes the story back to the original plan of the economic reformers and traces its course through the early stages, particularly the privatization of massive state assets, to its present disarray. Skillfully employing wide-ranging interviews with policymakers, entrepreneurs, and experts, and making the most of her keen eye for human and social detail, she gives the reader an insider's view of where the process went awry and why so few have benefited.

Where Brady tends to be understanding of the brash young men who launched reform against great odds, anthropologist Wedel sees them as more scheming, even unsavory. She focuses on the role of outsiders in the reform process, including USAID and collaborators from Harvard. She marches the reader through this complicated interaction with ease, but most of the way wagging her finger at the Westerners, portrayed as imperious, shallow, and (in the Russian context) often disrespectful of their own countries' democratic values.