It is not so easy to take the long view of socioeconomic history when you are participating in a revolution. For that reason, Russian economist Yegor Gaidar put aside an early version of this work to take up a series of government positions--as Minister of Finance and as Boris Yeltsin’s acting Prime Minister--in the early 1990s. In government, Gaidar shepherded Russia through its transition to a market economy after years of socialism. Once out of government, Gaidar turned again to his consideration of Russia’s economic history and long-term economic and political challenges. This book, revised and updated shortly before his death in 2009, is the result.
Gaidar’s account of long-term socioeconomic trends puts his country in historical context and outlines problems faced by Russia (and other developing economies) that more developed countries have already encountered: aging population, migration, evolution of the system of social protection, changes in the armed forces, and balancing stability and flexibility in democratic institutions.
This is not a memoir, but, Gaidar points out, neither is it “written from the position of a man who spent his entire life in a research institute.” Gaidar’s “long view” is inevitably informed and enriched by his experience in government at a watershed moment in history.
"The causes of modern economic growth are one great mystery, the sources of Russia’s plight another. Only someone with the intellectual ambition of Yegor Gaidar would try to penetrate both mysteries in a single volume."—Edward Lucas, The Wall Street Journal
"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."—Foreign Affairs
Yegor Timurovich Gaidar (19 March 1956 – 16 December 2009) was a Soviet and Russian economist, politician, and author, and was the Acting Prime Minister of Russia from 15 June 1992 to 14 December 1992.
He was best known as the architect of the controversial shock therapy reforms administered in Russia after thedissolution of the Soviet Union, which brought him both praise and harsh criticism. Many Russians held him responsible for the economic hardships that plagued the country in the 1990s that resulted in mass poverty and hyperinflation among other things, although liberals praised him as a man who did what had to be done to save the country from complete collapse. Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, who advised the Russian government in the early 1990s, called Gaidar "the intellectual leader of many of Russia's political and economic reforms" and "one of the few pivotal actors" of the period.