"Verena Fritz offers a spirited examination of the processes that enhance state capacity and state quality by assessing the fiscal policies and structures within four post-Soviet states with variation in state capacity and state quality outcomes. Combines comprehensive qualitative case studies of these countries with a quantitative chapter that examines key variables in all 15 of the post-Soviet states. Fritz’s book, which teems with empirical detail and benefits from comprehensive research for four critical cases, overcomes problems of conceptual clarity. Her argument that the timely creation of solid political institutions without the interference of mafia and oligarchic groups leads to better and more effective state-building policies is compelling and persuasive. Moreover, her finding that such policies may occur in both authoritarian and democratic contexts defies much conventional wisdom and provides an interesting challenge for a continued and vibrant scholarly debate"