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Alexander G. Marshall "alexmarshall3"
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The Political Economy of Stalinism: Evidence from the Soviet Secret Archives
The Political Economy of Stalinism: Evidence from the Soviet Secret Archives
by Paul R. Gregory
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.61

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, if odd, work, 6 Sep 2009
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Paul Gregory's study of the economic record of Stalinism is a much lighter read than it's title might suggest, although the main audience probably remains academics and economists. Each chapter is self-contained, like an article, making it a book one can easily read in bite-sized segments. It provides invaluable insight into the birth of central planning, with enormous details on how planning was actually carried out-the five year plan itself was relatively unimportant for example, since actual output was a product of a continuous process of negotiation and bullying.Gosplan for this reason sought to actively avoid being held accountable for delivery of goods. Stalin meanwhile both created this system and was trapped by it, grappling every day with overwhelming and excessive amounts of detail. All these, and many other points, remain valuable insights into Soviet reality. However the book should perhaps also come with a heath warning, since it is heavily and explicitly influenced by the economic thought of Hayek and Mises. Gregory holds it as axiomatic that the socialist economy led inevitably to dictatorship, and that the superiority of market economies lies in the fact that 'there is no evidence that increasing complexity-as measured by number of products, firms or technologies-makes them function less effectively' (p.247). This book was written in 2004 when there was already evidence that this was not in fact the case, and the recent sub-prime crisis has surely underlined the dangers of such excessively 'ideological' views regarding the absolute efficiency of free markets.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 23, 2012 7:52 PM BST


Music Of The Spheres
Music Of The Spheres
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Price: £4.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Proably his best album to date (2009), 27 Aug 2009
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This review is from: Music Of The Spheres (Audio CD)
This is probably Ian Brown's best album to date-clever, seemingly effortless, it just glides along. Northern Lights is an all time classic track with immensely powerful understated guitar playing, FEAR is a groundbreaking approach to deconstructive songwriting, and Whispers is a stone cold soul classic worthy of Isaac Hayes. The tracks are all relatively short and so never outstay their welcome, and this also helps create the feel of a real complete album in the way that they float into one another, rather than just a set of singles and b-sides that some other bands generate. What's more, it's held up over time, and still sounds more consistently progressive and inventive than most other stuff out there-more John Cale than Noel Gallagher.


Lenin: A Study on the Unity of His Thought (Radical Thinkers 4)
Lenin: A Study on the Unity of His Thought (Radical Thinkers 4)
by György Lukács
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably best summation of Lenin's thought, 27 Aug 2009
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Written in the early 1920s, this is probably the best summation of Lenin's thought ever written outside of the Soviet Union, and a useful corrective to some of the post facto generalizations about Lenin and his conception of the 'vanguard party' still written today. There is a clear political bias-(what book about Lenin doesn't have one?)-but it does very well 'what it says on the tin', emphasizing the 'unity of Lenin's thought' in a short and highly accessible format.Proves that a book does not have to be of imposing length to still be thought provoking.


Identity in Algerian Politics: The Legacy of Colonial Rule
Identity in Algerian Politics: The Legacy of Colonial Rule
by Jonathan N.C. Hill
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £40.81

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding study, 27 Aug 2009
This is an outstanding study of a critical period in modern Algerian history, essential reading for all of those with an interest in political Islam, North Africa, and national identity.


The Republic of Armenia: Between Crescent and Sickle - Partition and Sovietization v. 4 (Near Eastern Center, UCLA)
The Republic of Armenia: Between Crescent and Sickle - Partition and Sovietization v. 4 (Near Eastern Center, UCLA)
by Richard G Hovannisian
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of scholarship, 5 July 2009
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Armenia tends to get neglected in the West, hitting the news only when Nagorno-Karabakh becomes an issue. This concluding volume by a master historian looks at the final months of the first independent republic of Armenia, caught between Kemalist Turkey and the Soviet 11th Army. Though various readers may not always agree with the author's interpretation of events (the history of the region is incredibly contentious), the level of scholarship on display here is breathtaking-every relevant archive appears to have been used, and practically no stone is left unturned. In regard to histories of the Caucasus, which usually descend into populist stereotypes, this should serve as a model of 'how to do it.'


History Of The Communist Party Of The Soviet Union Bolsheviks : Short Course
History Of The Communist Party Of The Soviet Union Bolsheviks : Short Course
by A Commission Of The C C Of The C P S U (b)
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The (in)famous 'short course', 5 July 2009
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This is the 'short course' of the Russian Bolshevik Party, published in the immediate wake of Stalin's purges-Ezhov had executed over 600, 000 party workers by the time this hit the presses. As such, it's of interest for it's historical impact rather than it's factual accuracy. Over 40 million copies were printed, in many languages-the influence it had in China alone is said to have been enormous. With an entry by Stalin himself on dialectical materialism, it's also the perfect window into the Stalinist 'world view' of the 1930s. To keep the writing style easy to read, the sentences were deliberately kept clipped and punchy-it's still a model of how to write a political primer today, though one must approach it now as an artifact of a particular era, not a reliable history.


Hegel's "Science of Logic"
Hegel's "Science of Logic"
by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.56

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here begins the modern world, 20 April 2009
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Hegel's book remains a forbidding, yet immensely influential piece of work-Lenin read it in 1914-17 to help sharpen his dialectical skills, and it remains of value even now in compelling the reader to think about the notion and essence of being. It is certainly not a light read-the writing style in English translation verges on the impenetrable at times, and Hegel writes in a deliberately abstract manner (though occasionally concrete examples are provided). But if approached methodically, taking notes as you go along, it remains one of the most intellectually rewarding books you could ever possibly read.


Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism (Verso Classics)
Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism (Verso Classics)
by Perry Anderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating approach, 20 April 2009
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This is a fascinating review of the development of human civilization through shifting modes of production. Whilst this might sound dry, the book is beautifully written and engaging, and destined to stimulate anyone with an open mind into thinking more about the course of human history. Highly recommended.


SAVANE
SAVANE
Price: £10.03

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 30 Sep 2006
This review is from: SAVANE (Audio CD)
One wonders if knowledge of his own mortality drove Toure to produce his two most beautiful and affecting albums-this superb epitaph and the extraordinary In The Heart of the Moon. Many artists knowing of their imminent demise might have retreated into a shell-instead Mr Toure left us these two magnificant heart-rending pieces of African music, encompassing the full breadth of his talent and knowledge, at once both acoustic and electric, heavenly and humane. If you are not inspired and awed by these two albums your heart is dead.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2009 12:12 PM BST


Radical Islam in Central Asia: Between Pen and Rifle (The Soviet Bloc and After)
Radical Islam in Central Asia: Between Pen and Rifle (The Soviet Bloc and After)
by Vitaliĭ Vi︠a︡cheslavovich Naumkin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding analysis, 18 Jun 2006
Outstanding scholarly study of Islamist groups in the region backed up by impressive levels of fieldwork. Invaluable and essential for area specialists in this field.


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