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Hammer and Tickle: A History of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes Hardcover – May 29, 2008
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Other reviewers have noted that the book weaves together several rather incongruous threads. There is a history of the author's romance with a woman from the former East Germany, juxtaposing her unrepentant affection for communism, flaws and all, with his humorous, or perhaps cynical irreverence about everything in general and communism in particular. Then there is a history of the Soviet Union and of communism, played out in interviews with the likes of Lech Walesa. There is a history of official humor as a propaganda vehicle, and finally, the stuff we were looking for, the underground jokes that poked fun at communism.
An author should begin a book with a notion of who his readership might be. Lewis'book lacks that focus. He has parts for people who are just looking for jokes, historians and philosophers. Assessing each thread separately, I would say that he doesn't do a bad job with any of them. But just as you would not buy a single book to teach you how to cook and drywall, neither would I expect many people will be interested in the full range of Lewis' interests.
The book does have its bright points. First, he has edited the jokes fairly well. In any anthology of 1000 jokes the reader starts to gag after about 50 of them, wondering where the good ones are. In this book the jokes are sparse enough that when you come across one, you generally laugh. The strength of the joke is in the telling. Like any author, Lewis has taken liberties to structure the jokes optimally.Read more ›
1) some historical background (acceptable)
2) his own half-baked theories and clumsy interviews (enough said)
3) relationship issues with his girlfriend (?)
I am not sorry I bought the book because of the jokes, which there are plenty in the book.
It is a pitty that such a worthy subject did not get an author it deserves.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I confess I was unable to finish reading this book. Taking humor too seriously can get tiresome after a while.Published 8 months ago by James E. Mcvoy
Stephen Leacock's verdict that "humour may be defined as the kindly contemplation of incongruities of life, and the artistic expression thereof" should be kept in mind when reading... Read morePublished on August 29, 2008 by Theodore A. Rushton