Ed A Hewett Book Prize

2012 Citation Recipient

Carol Leonard

The Ed A Hewett Book Prize, established in 1994 and sponsored by the University of Michigan Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph on the political economy of Russia, Eurasia and/or Eastern Europe, published in the previous year.

Winner: Carol Leonard
Title: Agrarian Reform in Russia: The Road from Serfdom (Cambridge University Press)

Carol Leonard’s ambitious monograph explores the political economy of agrarian reform in Russia over the 150-year period bracketed by the emancipation of the serfs and the recent era of market liberalization. Both broad and deep in coverage, it is the sort of effort that could only have been undertaken by a scholar fully comfortable with archival texts and modern economic theory. Leonard gives equal attention to three periods: the era of imperial reforms from emancipation to Stolypin, the years of Soviet rule from the NEP experiment through collectivization to Gorbachev, and the two most recent post-Soviet decades. In so doing, she identifies common patterns in the motivation for and response to changes in agrarian policy. Across the generations, officials concerned with the country’s relatively poor agricultural performance pushed through reforms whose scale and impact was often limited by the opposition of vested interests. The effects of reforms have thus often not been immediate but have only become apparent over longer periods of time. Leonard’s book will stand for generations to come as an important reference for scholars of Russia’s historical trajectory.

Honorable Mention: Yoshiko Herrera
Title: Mirrors of the Economy: National Accounts and International Norms in Russia and Beyond (Cornell University Press)

Herrera sets out to explain the speed and comprehensiveness of Russia’s adoption of GDP accounting in the 1990s, a change that was critical for economic measurement and policy evaluation. It is argued that the rapid transition of Russia’s national accounts should be a surprise, given that most other Russian reforms were incomplete, contested, or compromised. Her book proposes an innovative explanation in terms of conditional norms. In the belief system of Soviet statisticians, a socialist economy was best evaluated by material product accounting, and market economies by GDP. When Russia became a market economy, this conditional norm enabled them rapidly to adjust beliefs to new conditions. A textured narrative of rapid organizational reform carried out by insiders, Mirrors of the Economy is thoroughly grounded in the contemporary and historical literatures, complemented by many interviews with Russian principals.