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The Dictator, the Revolution, the Machine: A Political Account of Joseph Stalin Paperback – 1 Oct 2016
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'By fully confronting the horrors of Stalinist dictatorship while providing a sophisticated account of the historically unique combination of factors that give rise to and sustained it, the book affirms the continuing vitality and relevance of revolutionary Marxism. Beautifully written in a fast-paced style, this magnificent book is difficult to put down once you have started reading it. Utterly compelling, a must read.'
Brian S. Roper, Associate Professor in Politics at the University of Otago. Author of The History of Democracy – A Marxist Interpretation
'Tony McKenna’s outstanding new book...written in compelling, non-sectarian style... not only illuminates the historical period of which he writes but, against all attempts to claim continuity between the October Revolution and its Stalinist nemesis, powerfully reasserts its original liberatory impulses and argues for their continued relevance for the left today.'
Neil Davidson, lecturer of Sociology at the University of Glasgow. Author of The Origins of Scottish Nationhood (2000), Discovering the Scottish Revolution (2003), for which he was awarded the Deutscher Memorial Prize, How Revolutionary Were the Bourgeois Revolutions? (2012), Holding Fast to an Image of the Past (2014) and We Cannot Escape History (2015)
'Although I think that McKenna would be capable of turning a Unix instruction manual into compelling prose, the dead tyrant has spurred him to reach a higher level... Drawing upon fifty or so books, including a number that leftist veterans would likely not be familiar...McKenna synthesizes it all into a highly readable and often dramatic whole with his own unique voice. It is a model of historiography.'
Louis Proyect, writer and activist, proprietor of The Unrepentant Marxist blog and moderator of Marxmail.org.
'Was Stalin’s hold on these reins of power inevitable?...The Dictator, The Revolution, The Machine is a passionate intervention into debates on these issues. The description of the full “shadow of totalitarianism”, Stalin’s 1930s Great Terror, and a thorough, searing, look at the Gulag, is outstanding. McKenna’s concluding hopes for a direct ‘utopian’ democracy that takes collective control of a socialised economy takes inspiration from the best side of the Soviet ideal.'
Andrew Coates, writer and activist, proprietor of the critical Marxist blog - Tendance Coatesy.
'McKenna artfully deploys a richly dialectical approach to biography that weaves Stalin’s personal story with the tumultuous history of Russia in the modern era. By doing so, he provides a valuable template for how Marxist writers should approach the genre of biography….The final chapter is a tour de force that links Lenin’s attempt to forge the world’s first proletarian state with the hollowing out of democracy we are witnessing all around us today. The cumulative effect of McKenna’s account is a comprehensive demolition of any possible ideological affinity between Lenin and Stalin.’
Sean Ledwith, writer and lecturer in History and Politics at York College, member of Counterfire.
‘In this vivid and clear-sighted overview, Tony McKenna rises to the challenge with a pacey and articulate account of Stalin’s role in the slow strangulation and defamation of the Russian revolution…The dialectical interplay between the bureaucratic takeover and its international ripples is expertly handled…[T]his short book has very much to recommend it. It is well informed and beautifully written…It is ambitious in scope and assured in analysis…Finally, despite the often grim subject matter, McKenna retains an essential optimism that the world can still be changed for the better.’ Andrew Stone, Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory
About the Author
Tony McKenna is a writer whose work has been featured by The Huffington Post, ABC Australia, The United Nations, New Statesman, The Progressive, New Internationalist and New Humanist. His first book, Art, Literature and Culture from a Marxist Perspective, was published by Macmillan in 2015.
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