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The Rise and Fall of Communism Hardcover – June 9, 2009
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“Ranging wisely and lucidly across the decades and around the world, this is a splendid book.” (William Taubman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era)
“This book requires and deserves space on all important book shelves for decades to come.” (Gary Hart, United States Senator (Ret.))
“[Brown’s] account is studded with delightfully pertinent and pithy personal observations and anecdotes...It is easy to be polemical about communism. Mr. Brown strives to be fair-minded...As a single-volume account of mankind’s biggest mistake, Mr. Brown’s book is hard to beat.” (The Economist)
“A sweeping, engrossing history. . . . Brown does a fine job of describing the social and political conditions that led people to embrace communism. And how, when the charms of the system wore off, these people found themselves ensnared by a totalitarianism that gave them no way to opt out.” (Dallas Morning News)
“Historical writing and political analysis of the highest order.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“A riveting and magisterial work.” (Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution and author of THE GREAT EXPERIMENT)
“For decades this volume will remain a definitive study of communism.” (Literary Review (UK))
“Readable and judicious...both controversial and commonsensical…‘The Rise and Fall of Communism’ is a work of considerable delicacy and nuance.” (Salon.com)
“Condensed with information that is both well-researched and well-placed within textbook history, [Brown’s] book is a rewarding read. It is an important book for the time—a sober reflection on the physical, objective results of ideological thought.” (Sacramento Book Review)
“Consistently superb” (Dwight Garner, New York Times)
From the Back Cover
From the internationally acclaimed Oxford authority on Communism comes a definitive history that examines the origins of the ideology, its development in different nations, its collapse in many of those countries following perestroika, and its current incarnations around the globe. The Rise and Fall of Communism explores how and why Communists came to power; how they were able, in a variety of countries on different continents, to hold on to power for so long; and what brought about the downfall of so many Communist systems.
For this comprehensive and illuminating work, Brown draws on more than forty years of research and on a wealth of new sources. Tracing the story of Communism from its nineteenth-century roots, Brown explains both its expansion and its decline in the twentieth century. Even today, although Communism has been widely discredited in the West, more than a fifth of humanity still lives under its rule.
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Easily, this is in the handful of best history books on communism. The book is not too long and yet sufficiently details the story of communism and the related Cold War. OK, some of the details in some areas, like governments in East Europe, are a bit much for my interest, but Acclaimed Oxford scholar Archie Brown overall makes the right choices for the "most authoritative" book on the subject without the book being too long. This is the benchmark and is complete and incredibly educational.
It is far more authoritative than other books on the Cold War or communism. Perhaps this is the benchmark,
It actually starts with history before Marx and Engels so you know the historical context leading to the observations and philosophy of communism. Then the beginning of the book covers the ideas of communism and the revolutionaries that espoused them, so critical for understanding how this twisted fantasy could have been so attractive to many people and spread around the globe. The Soviet Union is the main focus of the book. Like it or not, communism was the biggest political movement of the 20th century, with a huge rise and then big collapse.
The book explains how communism could have been appealing to so many people, how it did not deliver on its promises, and how it collapsed and disappeared so thoroughly. The early escalation of the Cold War is fascinating.
Another strength is the detailed explanation of how communism unraveled at the end -- obviously it did not deliver on the promises when totalitarianism abused the people and economies. Gorbachev played an unwitting role in the demise of communism in USSR with his Perestroika and Glasnost reforms, which allowed freedom in the Soviet empire. This is a great book on the fall of communism in USSR.
As Pulitzer Prize winning David Remnick wrote, "Once the regime eased up enough to permit a full-scale examination of the Soviet past, radical change was inevitable. Once the System showed itself for what it was and had been, it was doomed.
Brown was an adviser to Margaret Thatcher for awhile and has a slight anti-communist view, but this book is very fair and scholarly. Brown is a leading scholar of the Cold War, and this book is the benchmark book on the subject.
Other excellent cold war books are: The Cold War: A New History,For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet Union, and the Cold War,The Pulitzer Prize-winning Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire,A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution,Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill Won One War and Began Another,The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism,One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War,Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion Of Freedom,Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire, and Moscow, December 25, 1991: The Last Day of the Soviet Union.
Most recent customer reviews
Far bellow expectation, following review in The Economist.