“A work of considerable delicacy and nuance….Brown has crafted a readable and judicious account of Communist history…that is both controversial and commonsensical.”
“Ranging wisely and lucidly across the decades and around the world, this is a splendid book.”
—William Taubman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era
The Rise and Fall of Communism is the definitive history from the internationally renowned Oxford authority on the subject. Emeritus Professor of Politics at Oxford University, Archie Brown examines the origins of the most important political ideology of the 20th century, its development in different nations, its collapse in the Soviet Union following perestroika, and its current incarnations around the globe. Fans of John Lewis Gaddis, Samuel Huntington, and avid students of history will appreciate the sweep and insight of this epic and astonishing work.
While I knew what happened and when in Eastern Europe after WW II, this gives the whys. Why were people attracted to communism, why were they faithful to it, why did it last, and why , exactly, did it fail in Russia but survive in Asia. The scope is huge and the author has a good eye for crucial details
Good, in-depth history
I read this after teaching a class that had touched upon this. I read this book to get a more in-depth view of the subject and to better understand it than what I had learned in the textbook I had been using to teach large generalities.
This book does an excellent job of presenting all of the major events, names, and landmarks in the history of communism. It divides communism into clear eras and geographies. This helps give a notion of how communism was different in each area and how it eventually fell.
If there is one complaint I have, it's that what seems the crux of the entire book is that one man (Gorbachev) pretty much singlehandedly caused the entire fall according to him. He goes out of his way to say that G wasn't the only cause, but at the same time makes it clear in every paragraph how unlikely communism would have fallen if it weren't for him.
I most enjoyed the details on the more modern parts of history; China's capitalism, the splitup of the USSR, etc. I wish it were another 4 chapters that went into the present instead of simply skipping from 1992 to 2012.
All in all, an excellent history from 1917-1991.