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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading for Anyone Interested in the Cold War
"The Anti-Communist Manifestos" is a brilliant, masterfully written cultural history about four books, all bestsellers in their day, which shaped the West's understanding of Stalinism and its crimes. The authors were all former Communist Party members, three of whom had worked for Soviet espionage before turning sides. Thus the authors themselves were as controversial as...
Published on August 25, 2009 by Terry Vance

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Deceptive: Valtin's Out of the Night definately not anti-communist
The title of this book is certainly mis-leading as Germany's Jan Valtin's Out of the Night is certainly not an anti-communist manifesto, for the simple fact that the book is not anti-communist. Valtin (Herman Krebs) clearly believed in the communist ideals throughout the book. The most you might be able to say is that he opposed the changes Stalin was making to the...
Published on July 24, 2011 by SnowDog3000


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading for Anyone Interested in the Cold War, August 25, 2009
By 
Terry Vance (Westport, CT USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War (Hardcover)
"The Anti-Communist Manifestos" is a brilliant, masterfully written cultural history about four books, all bestsellers in their day, which shaped the West's understanding of Stalinism and its crimes. The authors were all former Communist Party members, three of whom had worked for Soviet espionage before turning sides. Thus the authors themselves were as controversial as the books they wrote, fanning ideological debates about "facts" and "credibility" throughout the 1940s and 1950s. John Fleming's extraordinary achievement is to tell the stories of these books within the context of their public receptions while avoiding the partisan distortions which characterized the ideological debates then and even now.

Arthur Koestler's novel, "Darkness at Noon" (1941), is one of the most important books of the 20th Century, while Whittaker Chambers's memoir, "Witness" (1952), remains famous for its detail regarding the author's accusations against Alger Hiss. The other two memoirs discussed are by a former thug / "organizer" of the German Communist Party, "Jan Valtin" (Richard Krebs), and by Victor Kravchenko, the first Soviet official to defect to the United States. Valtin's "Out of the Night" (1941) detailed the growth of the German Communist Party in the 20's and its destruction following the Nazi's seizure of power in the 1930's, along with lurid personal stories involving sex and violence. Kravchenko's "I Chose Freedom" (1946) triggered a pair of libel suits in France, which led to survivors of Stalin's slave labor camps testifying in open court. It was their testimony, that of the living victims of Stalinism, which became impossible to deny.

"The Anti-Communist Manifestos" successfully navigates through history, literature, and politics, and a reader opening to any random page is likely to become immediately engrossed. I personally enjoyed the elegance of Fleming's comments on memoir, that "subjective objective" form of writing, and his persuasive argument that "Witness" has a literary importance that has been overlooked by those whose interests have been limited to the factual.

Easy to understand why historians Tony Judt and Sean Wilentz have praised this book so enthusiastically.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential and Original Guide, July 29, 2009
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This review is from: The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War (Hardcover)
This is a brilliant analysis of the literary, philosophical, and political dimensions of four classic works. Fleming even-handedly discusses the complex political background, entering a life-or-death debate which is crucial to understanding the Cold War and its aftermath down to the present. He shows why the works should be read and re-read as literature, not just as the important historical documents they are. For example, he demonstrates why Koestler's "Darkness at Noon" is justly held to be one of the greatest novels of the Twentieth Century, and his placing it in context, during the ascendancy of Hitler and Stalin, is almost as fascinating as the breathtaking story within the novel. Throughout, Fleming writes with an entertaining and witty style that will engage any reader. I recommend it enthusiastically.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific recreation of the beginnings of the literary cold war, December 8, 2009
By 
spotchboy (Fairport, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War (Hardcover)
This is a superbly researched and well-written book. At this date it's hard to believe so many otherwise intelligent people were taken in by massive evil that was communism, but Fleming vividly recreates a very interesting slice of history, allowing the reader to see how so many were duped, thus making these four books so necessary and important. Bravo.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witnesses to Reality, September 7, 2009
By 
Gary Strickland (Phoenix, Arizona United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War (Hardcover)
John V. Fleming's "The Anti-Communist Manifestos" excellently performs service to those who would know the history, literary and cultural, of four great books dedicated to the cause of truth. With style and insight, Fleming unpacks the ironies and contradictions that infested the West during the age of international Communism; revealing, as he does, the farce of unfounded utopian faith.

The author's recounting of the works of Koestler, Valtin (Krebs), Kravchenko, and Chambers should induce, in the very least, a curiosity to explore the writings themselves. Telling the tales from the perspective of one who is familiar with the texts that, in turn, influenced these men, Fleming offers invaluable insights.

Because Marxist thought and its varieties of socialist offspring are by no means simply things of the past, the writings examined by Fleming retain much relevance. His essay on Whittaker Chambers' masterpiece "Witness" is itself worthy of multiple reads and reflection; for Chambers identified a war between two worldviews - that of unfettered idealism and that of fractured reality. The former perspective leads to a kind of phantasmic irrationality necessitating absurd apologias; the other can lead either to unwholesome despair or informed action. And, there is a third way, that of profound neglect. The majority, those who follow the third path, currently imperil civilization.

In the war of the worldviews, it may not be overstatement to declare Chambers' "Witness" and Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago" the most important books of the 20th century. Thankfully, their courageous efforts inspired action.

Professor Fleming has written a very impressive book. Once you commence reading, you will not put it aside. When you have finished, you will be motivated to read (or, re-read) the subject authors' writings, as well others who have sought to inform regarding the dangers of the collectivist fixation that still obsesses the cognoscenti.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly good history of an unpromising topic, April 30, 2011
By 
Anson Cassel Mills (Lake Santeetlah, NC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War (Hardcover)
A flat description makes this book sound pretty unpromising: a study of four anti-Communist best-sellers from the 1940s and `50s written by retired professor of Renaissance literature (pictured on the blurb in academic regalia no less). In fact, the book is good, sound, upper-level popular history.

Fleming is not only widely read but also a clever writer, usually able to rein in both the academic and blogger sides of his personality. Though the book sprawls more than occasionally, most of Fleming's diversions are at least as engaging as the theme itself. One might expect to find a reference to Dostoyevsky here--there are half a dozen--but not references to Walt Disney or the mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer. Fleming has even inserted droll index entries ("idiots, useful, 220; not so useful, passim"; "prothonotory warbler, spotted by Hiss, bagged by Nixon, 291").

The theme of this work is "the cultivated blindness" that prevented Western leaders and intellectuals from acknowledging for decades the falseness and brutality of the Soviet regime. The thoughtful reader may ponder what current politically correct notions will appear as hopelessly wrong-headed in another eighty years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview in intellectual history, May 19, 2013
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I am not what you would normally say is a prime audience for this book, as a socialist, anti-marxism can be tedious, but the documentation of the war of ideas around anti-communist writings, mostly from Marxists or ex-Marxists, and their impact is a fascinating history in and of itself. Learning the literary of history and the sometimes profound effect that now obscure figures have had is vital despite ones economic leanings. This book is a good introduction into that world which seems obscure to us now that the Soviet Union is no longer with us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good analysis of the four books covered, October 18, 2014
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Good analysis of the four books covered, especially Whitaker Chambers' "Witness" that I've recently read. Warning to naive college students enamored with communism as the cure for all social and economic ills; reading this book will cause you severe anxiety about your new found substitute for religion.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Deceptive: Valtin's Out of the Night definately not anti-communist, July 24, 2011
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SnowDog3000 (manchester, ct USA) - See all my reviews
The title of this book is certainly mis-leading as Germany's Jan Valtin's Out of the Night is certainly not an anti-communist manifesto, for the simple fact that the book is not anti-communist. Valtin (Herman Krebs) clearly believed in the communist ideals throughout the book. The most you might be able to say is that he opposed the changes Stalin was making to the nature German communist party, and that Stalin was crippling the German party's ability to fight Hitler. Basically, Stalin was putting Russia over Germany's interests. Out of the Night was a great book though, albeit slow going early on.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent view of the 40's and 50's, January 10, 2014
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Terrific. gives you a historical perspective on the radical left. shows it from the angle of 4 brilliant thinkers, people who had real experience with Stalinist police state.
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5.0 out of 5 stars These were a great gift., April 18, 2013
By 
Reader Guy (Sacramento, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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I bought these as a gift for my dad. Even living through so much of this history--from the western viewpoint--it is still amazing how really bad communism has always proven itself to be!
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The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War
The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War by John V. Fleming (Hardcover - August 17, 2009)
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