Building Democracy in Contemporary Russia: Western Support for Grassroots Organizations. By Sarah L. Henderson. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003. 224p. $29.95.
Sarah Henderson has written a courageous and eye-opening account of Western programs to create civil society in Russia. After having spent 12 months conducting surveys and interviews with more than a hundred activists of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in a dozen Russian cities, as well as doing consultancy work for three major foreign foundations over a seven-year period, Henderson has provided one of the first comprehensive looks at the impact that Western democracy aid—now a $7 billion industry—has had in Russia (p. 5). Her disturbing conclusion is that, despite good intentions, such programs have been counterproductive.