From one of our greatest historians, a magnificent reckoning with the modern world's most fateful idea.
With astonishing authority and clarity, Richard Pipes has fused a lifetime's scholarship into a single focused history of Communism, from its hopeful birth as a theory to its miserable death as a practice.
At its heart, the book is a history of the Soviet Union, the most comprehensive reorganization of human society ever attempted by a nation-state. Drawing on much new information, Richard Pipes explains the countryís evolution from the 1917 revolution to the Great Terror and World War II, global expansion and the Cold War chess match with the United States, and the regime's decline and ultimate collapse. There is no more dramatic story in modern history, nor one more crucial to master, than that of how the writing and agitation of two mid-nineteenth-century European thinkers named Marx and Engels led to a great and terrible world religion that brought down a mighty empire, consumed the world in conflict, and left in its wake a devastation whose full costs can only now be tabulated.
This opinionated introduction to communism would be better subtitled "requiem for a misguided ideology." Pipes (The Russian Revolution) focuses much of the book on his own field of specialty the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. The Harvard historian is at his best here, providing a thorough account of the ascendancy of the Russian party in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in accessible and at times eloquent prose: "Soviet totalitarianism thus grew out of Marxist seeds planted on the soil of tsarist patrimonialism." Part of the Modern Library's series on world history, the book details Soviet atrocities, emphasizing how Communist agricultural policies not only suppressed human rights but led to famines that killed millions of Soviet citizens. The sections on communism in other countries are much shorter and not as strong, particularly the discussion of Chile, in which Pipes fails to address the involvement of the United States in the 1973 coup that overthrew Socialist leader Salvador Allende. Throughout this volume, Pipes, a longtime Cold Warrior who served as Reagan's National Security Council adviser on Soviet and East European affairs, is on a mission to prove that communism's egalitarian impulses run contrary to human nature. Whether or not they agree with Pipes's views, students and general readers alike will benefit from this concise, insightful work.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Very unexpected from the writer. It’s not much about communism. It’s about the hatred of the writer towards the Soviet Leaders, specially Stalin. The books isn’t much about communism. It’s about how the soviet leaders acted during their regime. A writer should project neutral opinion. But Mr. Richard Pipes has projected his hatred towards communism and Stalin shamelessly. A big part of the book is about the great purge. I didn’t buy this book to know how staling killed thousands. I wanted to know the history of communism as the title of the book suggested. Extremely poor book.