The process has left enormous turmoil in this wake. Political power has dissipated in all the new states emerging from the fragmented former USSR, and all are struggling to establish some constitutional order. They do so under conditions of severe austerity as they seed to reconstruct their once integrated, highly concentrated, internationally isolated economy into independent instruments of national viability. With no detailed blueprint available, and with only fractured mechanisms of policy control at their disposal, these new nations are being carried along by the inertia of state enterprises and by a spontaneous process or regeneration at the grass-roots level.
This book, which analyzes Gorbachev's foreign economic strategy, provides a window for understanding the disintegrative forces that stymied his reforms and eventually defeated him, undermining the country he sought to preserve. Gorbachev was committed to ending Soviet isolation from the world economy and at the same time saving Soviet socialism. Ironically, it is the destruction of Soviet socialism and the emergence of new post-Soviet states, that has begun to break down the isolationist barriers erected over the last seven decades. This book documents the incredibly complex legacies that Russia and the other new post-Soviet states face as they see to integrate themselves into the global economy.
Ed A. Hewett, founding editor of Soviet Economy and formerly a senior fellow at Brookings, is now Special Assistant to the President on National Security Affairs and Senior Director of Soviet Affairs at the National Security Council.
Handpicked as a successor by the "family" surrounding an ailing and increasingly unpopular Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin seemed like a perfect choice for the oligarchy to shape according to its own designs. Suddenly the boy who had stood in the shadows, dreaming of ruling the world, was a public figure, and his popularity soared. Russia and an infatuated West were determined to see the progressive leader of their dreams, even as he seized control of media, sent political rivals and critics into exile or to the grave, and smashed the country's fragile electoral system, concentrating power in the hands of his cronies.
As a journalist living in Moscow, Masha Gessen experienced this history firsthand, and for The Man Without a Face she has drawn on information and sources no other writer has tapped. Her account of how a "faceless" man maneuvered his way into absolute—and absolutely corrupt—power is the definitive biography of Vladimir Putin.