In This Review

Russia: A Long View
Russia: A Long View
By Yegor Gaidar
The MIT Press, 2012, 568 pp

Not many countries have produced an academic-cum-official who could or would write a book like this. Gaidar, a scholar-economist, was the architect of Russian economic reform in the Yeltsin era. He completed this genuine magnum opus in 2005, four years before his death, at age 53. In it, he traces all of economic history back to the late Stone Age and places the long path of Russian economic development in this extraordinary context. The analysis is remarkably sharp and succinct, devoid of self-exculpation, and informed by an astonishing array of Russian and Western sources. Readers with little knowledge of Russia will be stimulated by the book’s ambitious scope, and students of Russian history will be treated to a fresh perspective on critical issues, including an arresting explanation of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last third of the book focuses on the road ahead, including the challenges Russia (and all other developed economies) will have to grapple with: shifting demographics, education, health care, social welfare, and defense spending. In a brief epilogue, Gaidar praises the steady economic hand of Vladimir Putin’s government but urges a less heavy political hand going forward.