The Great Rebirth: Lessons from the Victory of Capitalism over Communism

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The Great Rebirth: Lessons from the Victory of Captialism over Communism
Edited by Anders Aslund and Simeon Djankov
Institute for International Economics, U.S., 2014
320 pp. $21.95
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In this volume, published 25 years after the collapse of communism in eastern Europe, those who spearheaded the economic and political reforms in the resulting post-Soviet states (or who served as close advisers to the leaders) take stock of the region’s progress. The book provides a good overview of the most momentous political development of the late twentieth century, allowing readers to compare the former Soviet states’ early experiences with privatization, macroeconomic stabilization, and foreign trade and investment, as well as their later reforms dealing with taxes, pensions, and the rule of law. Although their paths in the post-Soviet period varied considerably, in general, eastern European countries that moved quickly to slough off the legacies of communist control recovered faster economically and achieved better subsequent growth; then again, those that moved faster also tended to have more recent and stronger histories of freedom, civil society, and democracy. In several countries, the prospect of membership in the EU and NATO served as spurs to reform but could also cause political divisions—a dynamic still at work in places such as Ukraine.