Russia's Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin
by Michael Mcfaul
Release Date: September, 2001
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.
On the positive side, he does give a lot of good information, and there are a lot of references to look up additional data. I would recommend this book for someone researching Russia up to, but not after, Yeltsen's re-election. And even then, it helps to have an idea of the issues he doesn't talk about.
I admit there may be others, but is McFaul the worst Moscow-based Western journalist around? I feel like beating my head against a wall when I read his M.T. articles. They read like school reports written on the Metro. Heaven knows what 400 pages would do to anyone.