A Guide to the Socialist Economies was published in 1990. Covering fourteen communist countries (accounting, in mid-1998, for 1.6 billion out of a world population of 5.1 billion), the final amendments to the book had been made in early October 1989. Shortly afterwards communism collapsed in Eastern Europe, followed in late 1991 by the disintegration of the Soviet Union (the largest country in the world by area, covering a sixth of the world's land area excluding Antarctica, and then a 'superpower' able to challenge the USA in terms of military capacity). Yugoslavia also disintegrated, and in a generally very bloody fashion. Academics like myself who had invested a lifetime in studying the communist countries saw their intellectual capital mostly vanish overnight. The effort of trying to comprehend profound changes, in many ways unique events and the multiplication of countries (as well as the disappearance of the GDR into a reunified Germany!) has been staggering.
My first stab at covering what became known as the transitional economies came in 1993 with the publication of Socialist Economies and the Transition to the Market: A Guide, which includes analyses of the basic features of command economies and the general issues involved in the transition to a market economy plus chapters on the original fourteen communist countries before 1989 and their individual experiences after 1989 (including the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia). While most countries opted for the market economy and political democracy, Cuba (initially) and North Korea retained the essential features of the traditional communist economic and political system. China, in contrast, adopted gradual and partial economic reform. Vietnam took note of the Chinese model, although there were speedier elements. Both China and Vietnam, however, remained firmly in the grip of the Communist Party.
A Guide to the Economies in Transition was published in 1996. Basically a companion volume to (as opposed to a revised edition of) Socialist Economies and the Transition to the Market: A Guide, it covers the period up to the mid-1990s. I am not an economic theorist but the volume includes an overview of the main issues in the transition from command planning to the market (including 'big bang'/'shock therapy' versus gradualism, China as an economic model and privatization). Although I am mostly interested in how economic and political systems actually change, I discuss the basic economic performance of individual