For close to sixty years Afghanistan was one of the largest recipients of foreign development aid and yet it remains one of the poorest countries on the planet. The Soviet Union provided Afghanistan with large-scale economic and technical assistance for nearly twenty-five years before invadingin 1979 and then increased the volume of assistance even further during the 1980s in an effort to prop up the government and undermine the anti-Soviet insurgency. None of this aid made any lasting difference to Afghan poverty. As in so many other countries, foreign aid did not promote economic growth. Using unexplored Russian sources, this book describes and analyses the economic and technical assistance programs run by the Soviet Union from the mid-1950sthrough to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and places them in the context of both Soviet-era development theories and more recent ideas about the role of institutions in fostering economic growth. In some respects Soviet development theorists were actually ahead of their contemporaryWestern counterparts in realising the centrality of institution-building, but they proved unable to translate their theories into practical solutions. The reasons why their assistance programs failed so completely in Afghanistan remain compellingly relevant today.