East Central Europe and the USSR

Edited by Richard F. Staar. New York. St. Martin's Press. 1991. 320 pages. $49.95.

Theresa Kurk McGinley

The book is a scholarly attempt to describe the revolutionary changes that swept through eastern Europe beginning with Poland in 1989. It marks the start of what will be a lengthy healing process both economically and politically between the former Soviet Union and east central European countries. It offers historical background and analysis as to what may or may not happen in the near future. This latter analysis is most difficult because the early 1990s in the former Soviet Union are only a prologue to what will come. The final outcome of the transformation of east central Europe and its neighbors to the east is dependent on too many variables. This reviewer will be surprised if the "Commonwealth" phase of the former Soviet Union lasts in its present state.

The decentralization of the Soviet Union has created a scramble for economic and political reorganization as well as securing alliances with the west. It is obvious that economic stabilization will take years not only in Russia but also in its former Soviet and east central European dependencies. What will the relationship between former dominions and Russia be? It is too soon to tell.

The book originated as a seminar organized by the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. Richard F. Staar, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, invited experts including other academicians and high-ranking government officials to offer their perspectives on the precarious economic and political relationship of east central Europe and the USSR. The book is a collection of twelve papers with the majority focusing on individual east central European countries and their relation to the USSR. Each paper includes a historical introduction followed by an examination of Soviet relations with the country during the past six years of the Gorbachev administration.

Theresa Kurk McGinley teaches history at North Harris County College.

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