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The Captive Mind Paperback – International Edition, August 11, 1990
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A central text in the modern effort to understand totalitarianism. --The New York Times Book Review
"As timely today as when it was written."--Jerzy Kosinski
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Top Customer Reviews
"Let us admit that man is no more than an instrument in an orchestra directed by the must of History. It is only in this context that the notes he produces have any significance. Otherwise even his most brilliant solos become simply a highbrow's of diversions."
"All the concepts men live by are a product of the historic formation in which they find themselves. Fluidity and constant change are the characteristics of phenomena. And man is so plastic a being that one can even conceive of the day when a thoroughly self-respecting citizen will crawl about on all fours, sporting a tail of brightly colored feathers as a sign of conformity to the order he lives in"
The author presents this fragility of human existence (and their mind) with a collection of fictionalized stories of four men who succumb to the forces of changing political landscape, more or less consciously becoming a victims of a historic situation.
The book, although written in 20th century around the context of WWII is still relevant today to enrich one's understanding of multiple facets of existing world order.
The book covers 4 such people who are not fictitious. They are drawn from life. Milosz eventually had to break with the Polish Communist Party and go into exile, because he could no longer obey the tenants of Socialist Realism. That he is one of the most perceptive thinkers of the 20th century is obvious as you read the book. The 20th century was a long nightmare for many people in the world. Millions died from war, famine, and political decisions. Milosz saw the worst of it and lived to tell the story. And tell it well.
This book is scathing and humorous in it's treatment of that failed regime. He describes through personal experience, not only how liberals and progressives avoided the cultural police and gulags, but perhaps even more valuable, how his "comrades" changed to become part of this authoritarianism.
I cannot recommend this book high enough for anyone who has read Godfather of the Kremlin, or Putin's Kleptocracy. This book covers the very beginning of the sort of regime Putin would seem to resurrect in the name of Empire and God.
When you finish this book, you understand completely what he meant by 'the captive mind.'