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Russia's Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin 1st Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801488146
ISBN-10: 0801488141
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

McFaul was a U.S. student in Moscow during the eventful years that saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and the birth of its Russian successor, a process that he describes, rather surprisingly, as "a social revolution on the scale of other great revolutions of the modern era." His book retraces the political history of those daysand the subsequent decade of what he terms the First and Second Russian Republics, divided by Boris Yeltsin's October 1993 assault on the Russian White House. He has done an immense amount of research, and his narrative is dense and solidly anchored in a detailed bibliography. He perhaps underestimates the Russian proclivity for authoritarian state leadership, but he is unambiguously clear about President Putin's antidemocratic tastes. His book complements Steven Fish's Democracy from Scratch (Princeton Univ., 1994) and carries the often discouraging tale of Russia's quest for democracy forward to the new century. For academic libraries and political science specialists. Robert Johnston, McMaster Univ., Hamilton, Ont.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"McFaul has done an immense amount of research, and his narrative is dense and solidly anchored in a detailed bibliography. . . . This book carries the often discouraging tale of Russia's quest for democracy forward to the new century."―Library Journal



"McFaul gives an erudite and well-documented history of the last fifteen years, from Gorbachev to Putin. . . . He brings striking firsthand experience to bear: The access he managed to obtain, and the time he spent with the revolution's various political players, brings fresh material and keen insight to the story."―Washington Monthly



"McFaul, in an elaborately researched volume, asks why the effort to create new and stable political institutions initially failed―first under Gorbachev and then during Boris Yeltsin's first term―only to succeed under the 'Second Russian Republic'. . . McFaul's book is especially noteworthy for its rich detail, greatly enhanced by interviews with almost all the key players."―Foreign Affairs



"The author is one of the most distinguished and engaged commentators on Russian politics. . . . He has produced a highly sophisticated, balanced and informative analysis of the emergence of Russian democracy that leaves open the question of whether it will become a consolidated democracy."―International Affairs



"Michael McFaul's book on Russia's transition from communism is likely to prove one of the most lasting and authoritative studies in its field. Particularly valuable is the framework it offers for comprehending the changes that have occurred. . . . Quite apart from the value of the theoretical argument, however, the book is likely to become the authoritative study of the period for its sweep, balance, and clarity."―Journal of Democracy



"In the worldwide cabal of Russia-watchers, Mike McFaul is held in high esteem as an insightful commentator and sharp analyst of current political puzzles in Moscow. This book is his claim for a deeper understanding of Russia'a transition. . . . This very rich and dense book deserves many hours of attentive reading."―Journal of Peace Research



"Both a path-breaking study of Russian politics and a major work on institutional change, Russia's Unfinished Revolution provides the best analytic and theoretical account I have seen of how and why a broad range of actors may come to accept an ambiguous and flawed regime. The access that Michael McFaul has won and the understanding that he has mobilized are nothing short of breathtaking. This is a deeply informative, fascinating, and at times gripping history."―Larry Diamond, coeditor of the Journal of Democracy



"Even those whose opinions differ from Michael McFaul's interpretations of transformative change in Russian politics since the second half of the 1980s will find this book both stimulating and exceptionally well-informed. McFaul combines theoretical grounding with readability―a far from common achievement."―Archie Brown, University of Oxford

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Product Details

  • Series: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press; 1 edition (August 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801488141
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801488146
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,188,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Frankly, it's a turgid read, especially the first chapter which goes on ad nauseam about methodologies and political models. Still, it's a comprehensive look at the past 20 years of Russian history.

It's also poorly proofread. Besides the numerous transliteration errors, primarily in the footnotes (and, hey, where's the bibliography?) there are embarrassing errors like "ex-patriot" (for "expatriate"), "principal" for "principle", and the overuse of the over-cute term "ancien regime" for the USSR.
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By A Customer on May 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
McFaul's work is an easily readable overview of Soviet/Russian politcal change since the mid-1980s. McFaul's analysis of the Gorbachev's period is inferior to that of other experts, such as Archie Brown. His analysis of the Yeltsin period is perhaps the best aspect of the book, especially the reason for the failure of the 1st Russian Republic, and the endurance of the second. But at times he loses his 'scholarly distance' and is almost an appologist for Yeltsin. There is little mention of Russian politics sicne 1996, though he does subtitle it "From Gorgachev to Putin." Putin's is only mentioned in passing in the conclusion. Brown's latest edited work is far better in terms of contemporary trends including the significance of Putin. THis work is best suited as introduction for advanced undergrads or masters students.
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Format: Paperback
The subtitle title of the book, 'political change from Gorbachev to Putin', defines what you expect to find between it's pages. Only that's not what's covered. McFaul covers the Gorbechev years, as well as Yeltsen's presidency -- but only until 1996. There is virtually nothing after 1996. I would expect that Putin's coverage would be light, given a publication date of 2001, but to skip over Yeltsen's final years is simply neglegent.
By giving only a few sentances to the 'Shares for Rubles' program, he skips over the criminal neglegance and fraud that occured. This behavior had strong impacts on the Russian economy, which directly caused the crash of their economy in 1998. This crash is skipped over completely -- possibly because at the time, as a reporter, McFaul was cheering Anatoly Chubais the mastermind and archetect behind the economic reforms. (If Chubais attempted to do what he did in the US, he would be spending a lot of time behind bars.) In short, it looks like McFaul is skipping over the time period when his journalism was (effectively) cheering on the corruption.
The complete failure of the economy (which -- to reiterate -- was skipped over completely), combined with the treatment of the oligarchs (also skipped over) directly led shaped the Russian perception of democracy and the free market. These factors also directly effected the conclusions at the end of his book, but he presents no explination as to why the results are so bad -- probably because the explination would involve covering the ground he choose to skip over. To skip over these major milestones is unforgivable for an author who is attempting to track the political and economic reforms in Russia.
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By Al Weeks on September 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would go so far as to call this book the post-Communist "Fainsod," an allusion to Merle Fainsod's classic study of the Soviet system. This volume is a thoroughgoing, well-researched study of what happened day by day, institution by institution, from the waning days of Gorbachev's shaky, uncertain rule to the denouement of Yeltsin.
Without a doubt, thid book will be go down as the basic study of what the author aptly titled, Russia's unfinished revolution.
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