The waves of democratization and de-democratization that swept over the Eurasian landmass in the 35 years after 1974 spawned an industry of interpretation. In particular, the collapse of communist governments from Berlin to Ulan Bator after 1989 and the emergence of 28 post-communist states offered social scientists an irresistible laboratory for testing some of their most cherished hypotheses about the nature of political change and conditions under which democracies thrive or collapse. Multiple countries emerging from a form of government that imposed unprecedented kinds of institutional, economic, and social standardization offered a comparable starting point. Even more appealing for cross-national research, by the mid-1990s the variation in outcomes was already easy to see. Considering the similarity of these countries when they began their post-communist journeys, the huge variation in regime-types that quickly emerged cried out for some sort of explanation. What accounts for this variation? Why did some countries have it easier than others? Why were some able to quickly consolidate democracies (even with very little previous democratic experience), why did others fail to move far from authoritarianism or slide back to authoritarianism after an abortive flirtation with democracy, and why did a large group end up as hybrid regimes, neither fully democratic nor completely authoritarian but something in between?