Ed A Hewett Book Prize

2010 Citation Recipient

Keith A. Darden

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: Keith A. Darden
Title: Economic Liberalism and Its Rivals: The Formation of International Institutions among the Post-Soviet States (Cambridge University Press)

Darden sets out to explain the policy choices that the post-Soviet states made in the international economic arena in the 1990s. He identifies three mutually exclusive paths that led respectively to WTO membership, reintegration into the CIS region, and unilateralism or autarky. The book provides a comprehensive narrative of these policy choices for each country, based on official documentation and statistics, memoirs, and more than two hundred first-hand interviews with officials. This alone is a major contribution.

At the book’s core is a substantial theoretical innovation. How important are ideas and ideologies in international policy choices? Social scientists have debated the importance of ideas relative to the influence of economic structures and interests, and national identities and feelings. Darden rejects an either/or approach. Instead, he argues that national elites cannot establish their identities or identify their material interests, except through the medium of “causal ideas” or models of the world that link alternative policies causally with possible social and economic outcomes.

Because the state of the world is intrinsically uncertain, Darden argues, our knowledge of past and present causation is always imperfect. As a result, causal ideas are not systematically selected for validity. Instead they are selected by historical factors, including sometimes by accident. In his book, Darden goes on to identify the national policy making circles in each country. He develops usable measures of the variation in their causal ideas. He successfully tests the contingent selection of ideas and their systematic influence on their international policy choices.

Economic Liberalism and Its Rivals is an excellent and incisively written contribution to our subject. The panel was hugely impressed by the broad scope of its topic and the high quality of the investigation, which has clear significance for history and social science beyond the limits of our region.

Honorable Mention: Sean McMeekin
Title: History’s Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russia by the Bolsheviks (Yale University Press)

The economic history of Russia’s revolution and civil war tends to take for granted the Bolshevik nationalization of the “commanding heights” of industry and banking. Less attention has been paid to the expropriation of Russia’s upper and middle classes. Sean McMeekin fills this gap with a powerful narrative of bank robbery and burglary, and an account of the economic and social consequences of these actions. History’s Greatest Heist uncovers a wealth of previously unknown information on how the Bolsheviks financed their operations. This well-researched book provides an object lesson in the ruination of economic and social values that results from confiscation: the loss to Russian society was far greater than the gain to the Bolsheviks.

Honorable Mention: Grigore Pop-Eleches
Title: From Economic Crisis to Reform: IMF Programs in Latin America and Eastern Europe (Princeton University Press)

From Economic Crisis to Reform is a fascinating contribution to the political economy of crisis adjustment in emerging economies. It compares the impact and implementation of IMF crisis adjustment programs in Latin America in the Cold War and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Grigore Pop-Eleches has combined theory with econometrics and case studies to produce a work of unusual breadth and depth. Among the findings are that economic crisis tended to sharpen domestic partisanship in Latin America in the Cold War, while softening it in Eastern Europe in the post- Soviet transition; debtor interests were less important in East European crisis adjustment than they were previously in Latin America. A substantive work of political economy, From Economic Crisis to Reform deftly utilizes the contrasting experiences of Latin America and Eastern Europe to illuminate broader lessons of IMF engagement applicable to all regions.