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293 of 310 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Estimations may vary, but a rape is a rape
Many people who do not like this book attacked that the statistics or estimations are inflated. Take Cambodia as an example. I visited S21 a few years ago. Some said 2 millions were killed by Pol Pot, sme said 1.7 millions. Some Chinese scholars estimated that 80 millions died of non-natural causes under Mao's rule; 50 millions were killed or oppressed to death during the...
Published on May 10, 2005 by C. Yu

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123 of 149 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Baby steps.
I have to say that I was really startled when I started reading this book! From the book's title and the reviews I read on Amazon, I was expecting a work with the point of view that communism as a system is evil; here's why/how. To be honest, my only concern was that the book would be too black and white, with an emphasis on gloating over telling what is among the most...
Published on September 9, 2002 by histbuff


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293 of 310 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Estimations may vary, but a rape is a rape, May 10, 2005
This review is from: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Hardcover)
Many people who do not like this book attacked that the statistics or estimations are inflated. Take Cambodia as an example. I visited S21 a few years ago. Some said 2 millions were killed by Pol Pot, sme said 1.7 millions. Some Chinese scholars estimated that 80 millions died of non-natural causes under Mao's rule; 50 millions were killed or oppressed to death during the Cultural Revolution alone. But some people dispute these figures. Let's say we give the preceding estimations a 90% "discount" : Only 20 thousands (= 2 millions X 10%) were massacred by Pol Pot and only 8 millions (80 millions X 10%) by Mao. But, these "discounted" figures are still horrible! The only way to explain "away" these crimes is to argue that anti-right movement, Great leap forward, cultural revolution, Gulag, S21... and many others never happen. If a girl was raped by a gang, it doesn't matter whether she was raped 5 times or 50 times. The only way to dismiss the case is to say that the girl is a liar. But, I am not a lair. And many Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodians... who experienced the suffering are not liars. Unlike some anti-Capitalist or anti-American critics who are enjoying luxary and freedom in the Capitalist America, those people who speak the truth spent many years in jail or lost virtually everything, including their home. I keep remembering in 1989 right after June 4, my parents told me not to come home... Please don't just focus on quantitative methodology (numbers). Numbers alone cannot tell the whole story.
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384 of 412 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for academic use, if academia will accept it, November 30, 1999
This review is from: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Hardcover)
First, understand that this is not a popular or literary work, but an accounting ledger of the casualties of 20th century communism. Once you understand that this is not _Darkness At Noon_ or _Dr. Zhivago_, you can accept it and its horrifyingly high numbers as intended. The authors have taken advantage of the opened KGB archives to track down the details of hundreds of repressions and atrocities committed by the Soviet power in the name of their ideology. They do the same for other communist regimes like Cuba and China without the benefit of archival materials. The fact that they still have to round the death tolls to the nearest thousand in many cases firmly makes the authors' controversial point: Communism is the most murderous idea ever devised. One of the authors asserts that communism is not one whit a lesser evil than nazism. It lasted longer, immiserated and killed more people, and had more friends in influential western institutions, no matter that the repressions and killings were class-based rather than race-based. The book has two generous photo-inserts, to make the text's point more immediately. The arrival of this book, along with _Venona_, _The Haunted Wood_, and _The Shield and The Sword_, gives heartening evidence that the murderous truth about the Communist era may finally seep into the general consciousness, if not yet into the politically correct recesses of tenured radicaldom. Here are the facts--hereafter, ignorance about communism is strictly voluntary.
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252 of 272 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely necessary, March 7, 2000
This review is from: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Hardcover)
This book could have been a lot longer. It could not have been any shorter, though: it takes a brick of a book to really provide the crushing scope of this murderous ideology, and the authors have slowly, methodically, relentlessly added example after example to put in display, naked, a monster that killed tens of millions in the 20th Century and that will continue to kill (one hopes in a far smaller scale) in the 21st until it wastes itself out and vanishes. Communism became religion and state and proceeded to murder away as if the body count meant better chances of achieving that utopian society it pretended to aim at. We now know the absolute disasters that all Communist societies were -and are-, but this book is necessary as a ready reference work on evil that should be next to to William Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." Communism has managed to kill more than 100 million people, and this estimate is actually quite conservative: Solzhenitsyn puts the figure at 60 million in the former Soviet Union alone; Roy Medvedev opts for 40 million dead just under Stalin, not counting those who died because of World War II. Nobody really knows how many millions were murdered by Mao. Many historians and writers had told us parts of this sad tale: Milovan Djilas, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Robert Conquest, W.S. Kuniczak, Aino Kuusinen, Armando Valladares, Roy Medvedev, Dmitri Volkogonov, and others, so many, indeed, that a complete list would require several pages. But the authors of "The Black Book of Communism" do what none of the other authors had done before: they provide us with a total view of malignity, proving that, from Russia to Korea, from China to Cuba, from Africa to Europe, Communism was, indeed, a cancer. An excellent and necessary work.
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105 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important, November 29, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Hardcover)
Anyone who harbors delusions that communism/socialism, if only applied correctly, would solve all ills, should read this book. In every instance communism/socialism results in the gulag and extermination camps. I heard Kurt Vonnegut speak at U.C. Irvine a few years ago, and he said, "communism is a good system, it just happens that in the Soviet Union, the system was run by a bunch of crooks." Vonnegut--whose books are published by a capitalist conglomerate--is a first-rate novelist, but I hope he reads this book, and gets it through his head that the communist SYSTEM ITSELF is what is rotten. This book wears on the soul after a bit, because SO MUCH death and torture and incarcertation resulted in all communist systems. But one should feel a bit worn down when reading this book, because it means you are feeling the impact of what millions upon millions have suffered.
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69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Workers' Paradise" exploded., January 27, 2000
By 
J.A.Q. (Arlington, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Hardcover)
As a Russian language student who spent two years working and studying in the former Soviet Union just before its collapse, I heard a good number of grisly accounts from working class Soviet citizens detailing the horrors that their government had inflicted upon them and their parents, including torture, imprisonment, execution, and even commitment to madhouses for such "diseases" as believing in God. Nevertheless, coming from an American educational establishment that had for decades treated Communism with kid gloves, I couldn't help but wonder if my Soviet friends had been exaggerating a little bit. Now, ten years later, this amazing book demonstrates just how abominable Communism really was, just how brutal, just how rapacious, and just how WRONG, the delusions of its comfortable Western apologists notwithstanding.
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80 of 88 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At Last an Indictment of the Most Murderous Theology Ever, January 31, 2000
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This review is from: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Hardcover)
The dumbest thing you will ever hear a member of the Birkenstock Left say about Communism is that it was a good idea badly implemented. Rather than commit an immediate and warranted act of violence to knock some sense into anyone silly and naive enough to promote such nonsense, give them this book.
The Black Book of Communism lays bare the truth behind this murderous theology and shows that, contrary to the assertion above, Communism has left a trail of murder and deceit wherever it has taken root.
There are those who claim that Lenin was a great man who simply lost control of the Revolution he started. Explain then the numerous examples of his bloodthirsty orders. My personal favorite is when he calls for the hanging of the kulaks in a tone so mild-mannered you'd think he was asking his babushka to save him some sugar beets. The banality of evil, indeed.
While a large portion of the book is rightly devoted to the Bolsheviks (including an amazing account of Russian Civil War atrocities), you'll also find detailed accounts of Communism in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Latin America, and Africa. This is by far the most comprehensive and detailed account of Communism's global terror yet produced and demonstrates conclusively that the Communist ideal IS the problem, not errors in its execution.
Aside from providing numerous, detailed examples of Communist atrocities, this book raises a number of disturbing questions. Why do so many persist in following this atheistic religion with such single-minded fervor, even in the U.S. and Europe? Why does the West continue to deny that Communism, not Fascism, is the most murderous ideology yet created by Man (having caused over 100 million deaths worldwide, according to the authors)? Why did it take so long for this book to be written?
Once you crack the cover on this masterful work, you will be utterly enthralled (and likely outraged) by the unfolding narrative. While the book is huge, most readers will find it a quick read and well worth the time invested. I dare anyone to read this and emerge with any respect for the Communists or their fellow travellers. Even the casual reader will walk away with a deeper appreciation for the suffering inflicted by this warped creed, as well as sincere gratitude to the men and women who risked life and liberty to destroy it.
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113 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLACK BOOK INDEED, March 27, 2000
By 
Arnold A. Putnam (Kennebunkport, Maine USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Hardcover)
This book is a must read for all students of twentieth century history. This century cannot be understood without an understanding of the effect, more than eighty years, of the brutal, nihilistic and morally corrupt political system called Communism.
THE BLACK BOOK covers the history of Communism, starting with the Bolsheviks in Russia and, chapter by chapter, covers the communist movements and governments, country by country, to the present day. It thoroughly explores the crimes of slavery, genocide, murder, terrorism-which even the youngest of children were not exempt-and repression committed in the name of Communism. The most poignant aspects of this book are excepts from narratives of unfortunate people sentenced to socialist concentration camps for political crimes.
We in the western democracies have long held a double standard with regard to Fascism and Marxist-Leninist Communism. Books are published almost weekly concerning some aspect of Hitler and the Nazis. Programs, such as THE NAZIS: A WARNING dominate documentaries concerning the twentieth century. Hitler and his followers formed but one of the disgusting stains on the fabric of humanity. However, the Nazis were never able to compete with the scale of terrorism, murder, torture of Communism. The land areas and populations under repression by the Nazis pale in comparison with Communism. A recent election in Austria, in which several supporters of a Nazi apologist were elected, was met with cries of outrage from all over Europe and the United States. No such outcry has greeted the election of any communist legislators in Europe or elsewhere.
This book should serve as a warning to those who have never come face-to-face with the reality of Communism, especially here in the United States. It should serve as a warning concerning those that, in their youth, fully supported the Communist movements in Asia and Cuba and still seek to have major aspects of Communism as a part of the laws and society of the United States. We should remember that Communism has not gone away, it is still very much alive in the world today.
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82 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Overview of Communism in Power, March 25, 2000
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This review is from: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Hardcover)
The Black Book of Communism A Black Book is a name associated with various official books (usu. bound in black) of public significance; The most famous black book of the 20th century was one the Allied Powers published after the Nuremberg Trials documenting Nazi war crimes. Unlike that Black Book, this one on Communism is not the product of governmental investigation, though one is long overdue, but the work of scholars.
This book does not replace the earlier histories of Soviet Communism, say Medvedev's "Let History Judge" or Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago," or even the work of western scholars such as Robert Conquest's "The Great Terror." Nor does it replace the works on other communist countries such as the People's Republic of China. What this black book seeks to do is give a catalog of the "achievements" of communism, namely, terror, repression, and in the case of Ukraine and Cambodia: genocide. It succeeds.
The book does have comprehensive coverage of communists in power, but it does not give a history of communism in places where the communists never came to power. I would have liked to have read about communism in Western Europe and the United States. The disgraceful behavior of the communists and their apologists in the west would have made for a controversial and a compelling chapter.
I use this book as a handy reference guide, and that was what it was made for.
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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important, February 8, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Hardcover)
Liberal elites should read this book. Johnny Depp (millionaire) was recently on the cover of "Premiere" magazine wearing a Che Guevara (Castro's communist partner) medallion. This book points out that, when a 13 year old boy in Che Guevara's army ate some food he was not supposed to, Che Guevara had him killed. There is obviously a big gap between the Johnny-Depp-types' perception of communism, and the reality of communism. This book shows you the reality.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Statistics of Sorrow, March 19, 2004
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This review is from: The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Hardcover)
To begin with, I have to point out that I am extremely anti-authoritarian, having no love for socialism, communism, fascism, or any other centrally planned and/or totalitarian government. However, I've never spent much time reading about the internal workings of those countries that have fallen under such foolishness because it just seems so self-evident to me. However, I have always found it ironic that while Hitler managed to knock off a few million in his "labor" camps, Stalin's crimes have managed to remain below most people's radar. Sure, people know that the USSR was repressive, but when people want to compare a dictator like Saddam Hussein with someone really bad, they invariably choose Adolph Hitler. As the authors of this book point out, the Red Terror, purges, repressions, and other atrocities committed by Lenin and his heirs Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il-Sung and his ridiculous progeny made Hitler look like an amateur.
The BBoC is not an attempt to write the definitive history of every communist country, nor is any attempt made to analyze the philosophical nuances of Bolshevism, Leninism, Stalinism, Hoxhaism, Trotskyism, Maoism, etc., or to distinguish such "actual socialisms" from the theoretical spawning grounds of Marxism, Owenism, Fourierism, Fabianism, etc. As it is, the book is over 800 pages long, so an attempt to "finally" resolve these disputes would require additional volumes. I think that criticisms of the book on that basis fail because they are accusing the authors of falling short of a goal that they did not set out to achieve.
Rather, what the authors (self-described communists and fellow travelers) have actually attempted to do is to estimate the magnitude of the number of people who died in the name of class struggle. One of the tragic differences that they point out between Nazism and Communism: the SS simply killed its victims without fanfare, while the communists typically forced their victims to sign confessions, endure show trials, and participate in public self-criticism before taking a bullet to the neck (a favorite method of the KGB's predecessor, the "Cheka"). Despite the high drama, the communists and nazis both killed for the same reason (or lack thereof): victims were killed not for what they had done, but because of who they were. Both sides killed Jews, Nazis killed gypsies while Lenin and Stalin killed kulaks. They both killed people because they were related to state enemies. The major distinction between them was that Stalin and Mao were far more successful than Hitler. The authors briefly theorize that the reason Hitler's crimes are more well-known and despised is that Hitler lost a hot war, and the Nuremberg trials publicized the tragedy of the Holocaust. By contrast, Stalin and his heirs lost a cold war with a whimper, long after the worst crimes had been committed, when the few survivors were old, and when the public had no stomach for reliving those years. The other communist countries are still run by criminal gangs that have no intention of opening their records to public scrutiny. For that reason, the chapters on Eastern Europe and especially Russia are the strongest, followed by the chapter on China. The chapters on Latin America, Africa, and Afghanistan are weak. Of all of them, though, I found the chapter on Cambodia to be the most heart-breaking. I knew it was bad, but while most of the book illustrates the ledger-like listing of deaths with a few descriptions of the most inhumane policies, this chapter's author deeply affected me as (s?)he made a serious attempt to answer "Why?".
As to whether it is fair to group Stalin's USSR, Khmer Rhouge, and other regimes together, the authors point out in each chapter the remarkably similar methods and timelines and the training received at the feet of the Comintern. I was surprised to find out how frequently and effectively communists used systematic starvation as a method of repression. In most every case, the communists worked with the socialists and anarchists to achieve power, then began to "liquidate" their ideological competition. (The term "liquidate" arises so often that I began to worry about becoming desensitized to it) It is quite possible that Franco won power in Spain not because the Spanish people or Hitler and and Mussolini backed him, but rather because Stalin's Comintern-backed communists were busy killing Franco's opposition in their own megalomaniacal quest.
The value of this book is in pounding home the brutality of totalitarian governments. You think you know, but until you have to read page after page of tragedy, you really can't imagine the soul-crushing despair and dehumanization that leads people to rat on their relatives, trade their children for food, and even trade their children *as* food. You begin to understand the hatred that leads even an avowed Marxist like Chris Hitchens to applaud the toppling of Saddam and his Ba'athist gang of murderers.
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The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression
The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression by Stéphane Courtois (Hardcover - October 15, 1999)
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