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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 March 2016
This is not a good book, which is a shame. The subject of 'communism' is interesting and important - so it deserves a good introductory text. But this book isn't it.

Communism is not adequately explored in terms of concepts and theories. Instead, this book focuses on so-called Communist states. But the countries of the Second World (e.g. the USSR) were only one model of possible communism. This book considers such countries to encapsulate what communism is all about, and this is poor judgement on the part of the author.

And, worse still, the book tends to conflate Communism with Marxism, and views Marx as the founder of 20th century Communist states. This is utter nonsense.

If students read this without being offered a broader picture of what communism is about, so a very limited and restricted understanding will follow. I've been teaching sociology and political science to university students for over a decade, and I simply couldn't recommend this book.

This is a very poor text that serves only to hinder understanding on the complexities of communism. Of course, if you're only interested in a superficial notion of what communism involves, this book will suffice.
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on 26 February 2016
Almost didn't buy this book because of Dr. Bojan's review, which made it sound like this book is very polemical and pro-communist. Nothing of the sort. The book simply summarises, from a broad perspective the political, economic, social and international aspects of life under communist regimes generally in the 20th century, and frequently notes how such regimes usually failed in those aspects. Far from 'gloating' over the 2007-2008 economic crisis and wishing for some return to communism, the author states, in a typically measured and perhaps timid way, "while the horrors perpetrated by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and other Communist leaders must never be forgotten, it is time to move on from Cold War propaganda and acknowledge that Communism may have had some positive aspects, even if these were few in number". So don't worry that this book is full of brainwashed pinko commie claptrap.

My only criticism is that the author takes an entirely historical approach. Chapter 1, "The theory of communism", has brief remarks on Marxism and contributions by Lenin and Stalin, then ends by saying that the best way to study communism is to study it in practice. The rest of the book then reads like a Cold War history lesson. Well-written, but I would have appreciated a few more summaries of communist thinkers, or a few case studies of policies adopted in communist countries with an analysis of the underlying supposedly communist doctrine. Four stars.
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on 13 October 2014
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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on 8 January 2016
The book arrived in perfect condition.
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on 21 April 2016
An excellent short guide--a little partisan but generally tries to get essential information across. Amazingly comprehensive for such a small book.
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on 8 March 2016
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on 17 July 2014
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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.
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