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Communism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Leslie Holmes
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The collapse of communism was one of the most defining moments of the twentieth century. At its peak, more than a third of the world's population had lived under communist power.

What is communism? Where did the idea come from and what attracted people to it? What is the future for communism?

This Very Short Introduction considers these questions and more in the search to explore and understand communism. Explaining the theory behind its ideology, and examining the history and mindset behind its political, economic and social structures, Leslie Holmes examines the highs and lows of communist power and its future in today's world.
ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Review

Very readable and with its wealth of detail a most valuable reference book. (Gwyn Griffiths, Morning Star )

Review

Very readable and with its wealth of detail a most valuable reference book. Gwyn Griffiths, Morning Star

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1283 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (27 Aug. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199551545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199551545
  • ASIN: B003CYCUPY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #87,757 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes Cde 13 Oct. 2014
Format:Paperback
Great eye opener. I always wanted to read about communism but thick books keep me off. Having this intro was good. I highly recommend it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 17 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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4 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Communism is an ideological and economic system that dominated vast regions of the World during the twentieth century. At its peak, almost a third of the World population lived under communist regimes. Even today 1.5 billion Chinese (and a few million others) live in countries that to varying degree espouse communist ideals. It is inconceivable to study the modern history without understanding communism in all of its manifestations. It would be impossible in a single book, especially one that is a very short introduction, to do full justice to such a complex and vast subject. Keeping that in mind, this book manages to encompass quite a bit of basic information on communist regimes and societies. All of the most salient characteristics are well documented, with very insightful observations about the differences among various communist countries, or within single country over its history. However, there are some glaring omissions. The role of the vast internal security apparatus and the extent of politically motivated imprisonment and state torture are mentioned just in passing. This is quite an unacceptable omission, since it is precisely thorough state coercion and force that communist regimes solidified and preserved their power. The cornerstone of all communist regimes was the propagation and promotion of myths of "communist revolution," and hence a justified use of violence, as the raison d'être of the communist state. Indeed, there has not been a single communist country that had become communist without the use of violence.

Even more glaring than the omissions of the above nature are the analysis errors that permeate this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brief but excellent introduction 5 Mar. 2010
By A reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Mr. Holmes' analysis is compact and informative. Without praising or demonizing the theory of communism, the author presents a level-headed history and analysis of the movement. I found the final chapter on the theories surrounding the fall of communism, and its possible future, especially interesting. An excellent introduction for someone unfamiliar with the subject.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction that Unfortunately Falls Short in the End 18 Sept. 2009
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Communism is an ideological and economic system that dominated vast regions of the World during the twentieth century. At its peak, almost a third of the World population lived under communist regimes. Even today 1.5 billion Chinese (and a few million others) live in countries that to varying degree espouse communist ideals. It is inconceivable to study the modern history without understanding communism in all of its manifestations. It would be impossible in a single book, especially one that is a very short introduction, to do full justice to such a complex and vast subject. Keeping that in mind, this book manages to encompass quite a bit of basic information on communist regimes and societies. All of the most salient characteristics are well documented, with very insightful observations about the differences among various communist countries, or within single country over its history. However, there are some glaring omissions. The role of the vast internal security apparatus and the extent of politically motivated imprisonment and state torture are mentioned just in passing. This is quite an unacceptable omission, since it is precisely thorough state coercion and force that communist regimes solidified and preserved their power. The cornerstone of all communist regimes was the propagation and promotion of myths of "communist revolution," and hence a justified use of violence, as the raison d'être of the communist state. Indeed, there has not been a single communist country that had become communist without the use of violence.

Even more glaring than the omissions of the above nature are the analysis errors that permeate this book. The author repeats the old canard that communism is different from "true" Marxism, and that Marx and Engels probably would not have approved of how their ides were implemented. This completely sidesteps the issue of why was it necessary to implement communism in such a brutal way to begin with. In fact, Marx's ideology was so far removed from reality that the only way it could ever be implemented was in situations where normal operations of market economy were nonexistent to begin with.

Another rather annoying point that the author brings up on several occasion is his apparent gloating over the recent economic crisis that has affected much of the world economy. To him this is somehow a proof that the market economy is also not all that is cranked up to be, so maybe we need to take a second look at some of the communist policies after all. Besides being incredibly shortsighted, this view has the effect of partially rehabilitating political systems that had brought so much devastation and misery to literally billions of people. It is hard to imagine that someone would be making similar statements about, say, fascism. Yes, according to that viewpoint, fascism was an evil regime, but at least in fascist countries trains ran on time. It is unfortunate that communism never quite got the stigma that it deserves, and this short book will not make any steps in that direction.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 30 May 2015
By Cowboy Copus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well done book.
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