Top positive review
Long on history, short on theory
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.