In This Review

Preying on the State: The Transformation of Bulgaria After 1989
Preying on the State: The Transformation of Bulgaria After 1989
By Venelin I. Ganev
Cornell University Press, 2007, 240 pp.

The Stalinist state and its satellites came as close as any other to the Leviathan, and, therefore, the weak, ineffectual residue into which they quickly crumbled following communism's demise demands an explanation. Ganev accepts the task -- and more, striving not only to reconstruct the Bulgarian experience but also to justify rich, qualitative single-case studies as a method, while challenging what he regards as the dominant framework within which others have located the reasons for the debilitated postsocialist state. The state withered not by the design of liberal reformers whose market-oriented ideas required freedom from government intrusion but as an unintended outcome -- the result of the destruction of the Communist Party's grip, the stripping of resources from the state without enriching the private sector, the vetoes over state action given to predatory actors by redistributive economic schemes, and the unexpected gap between the creation of new and the salvaging of old institutions. This is an innovative and thought-provoking study.