The series of political revolutions in eastern Europe that started in the summer of 1989 and ran through to the break-up of the Soviet Union two years later took many commentators by surprise. Few had envisaged political change in as massive and as rapid a fashion as actually transpired, and the period since has seen an outpouring of political and economic writing aimed at repairing the omissions in the predictive gaze through retrospective analysis, and at uncovering the main determinants of the new world.