Customer Review

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading for Anyone Interested in the Cold War, August 25, 2009
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 15, 2011 9:21:13 AM PDT
Now, I wonder, would Koestler, Kravchenko, Valtin, and Chambers see their works as anti-Stalinist or anti-Communist. There is no Stalinism as a coherent ideology; there is no Stalinism as a political movement. There is only the construct of "Stalinism" as a cover for the numberless crimes committed by Communists in the name of their ideology from the days of the Bolshevik coup to the present and the complicity of their fellow travelers.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

4.4 out of 5 stars (11 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
$27.95 $25.16
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Westport, CT USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 5,658,995