100 Best Communism Books of All Time

We've researched and ranked the best communism books in the world, based on recommendations from world experts, sales data, and millions of reader ratings. Learn more

Featuring recommendations from Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Donald J. Trump, and 140 other experts.
1

Animal Farm

Animal Farm is one of the most famous warnings ever written. Orwell's immortal satire - 'against Stalin' as he wrote to his French translator - can be read on many levels. With its piercing clarity and deceptively simple style it is no surprise that this novel is required reading for schoolchildren and politicians alike. This fable of the steadfast horses Boxer and Clover, the opportunistic pigs Snowball and Napoleon, and the deafening choir of sheep remains an unparalleled masterpiece.





One reviewer wrote 'In a hundred years' time perhaps Animal...
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Whitney Cummings[Whitney Cummings recommended this book on the podcast "The Tim Ferriss Show".] (Source)

Vlad TenevWhen I was in sixth grade I remember being very upset by the ending of [this book]. (Source)

Sol OrwellQuestion: What books had the biggest impact on you? Perhaps changed the way you see things or dramatically changed your career path. Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984 (though Huxley's Brave New World is a better reflection of today's society). (Source)

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2

The Communist Manifesto

"A spectre is haunting Europe," Karl Marx and Frederic Engels wrote in 1848, "the spectre of Communism." This new edition of The Communist Manifesto, commemorating the 150th anniversary of its publication, includes an introduction by renowned historian Eric Hobsbawm which reminds us of the document's continued relevance. Marx and Engels's critique of capitalism and its deleterious effect on all aspects of life, from the increasing rift between the classes to the destruction of the nuclear family, has proven remarkably prescient. Their spectre, manifested in the Manifesto's vivid... more

Peter SingerYes, it is. I chose The Communist Manifesto, rather than, say, Capital because it shows in a much easier-to-read, shorter work something that is central to Marx’s vision. Capital is much drier, and a lot of it is focused on economics, although there are some remarkable passages of Capital describing the conditions of industrial workers in England at the time. (Source)

Felipe Fernández-ArmestoMarx and Engels’s historical analysis is breathtakingly, brilliantly simple. I think it’s wrong but, again, you’ve just got to admire its genius. Obviously, without understanding the historical basis of Marx’s thought you can’t understand anything else in Marxism. (Source)

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3

1984

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

With extraordinary relevance and renewed popularity, George Orwell’s 1984 takes on new life in this hardcover edition.

“Orwell saw, to his credit, that the act of falsifying reality is only secondarily a way of changing perceptions. It is, above all, a way of asserting power.”—The New Yorker
 
In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave...
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Richard BransonToday is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime. (Source)

Steve Jobscalled this book "one of his favorite" and recommended it to the hires. The book also inspired one the greatest TV ad (made by Jobs) (Source)

D J TaylorIn terms of how technology is working in our modern surveillance powers, it’s a terrifyingly prophetic book in some of its implications for 21st-century human life. Orwell would deny that it was prophecy; he said it was a warning. But in fact, distinguished Orwell scholar Professor Peter Davis once made a list of all the things that Orwell got right, and it was a couple of fairly long paragraphs,... (Source)

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4

Nothing to Envy

Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population.

Taking us into a landscape most of us have never before seen, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, in which radio and television dials are welded to...
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Recommended by Hyeonseo Lee, and 1 others.

Hyeonseo LeeShe includes great details that show everyday life in North Korea. (Source)

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5

The Master & Margarita

Mikhail Bulgakov's devastating satire of Soviet life was written during the darkest period of Stalin's regime. Combining two distinct yet interwoven parts—one set in ancient Jerusalem, one in contemporary Moscow—the novel veers from moods of wild theatricality with violent storms, vampire attacks, and a Satanic ball; to such somber scenes as the meeting of Pilate and Yeshua, and the murder of Judas in the moonlit garden of Gethsemane; to the substanceless, circus-like reality of Moscow. Its central characters, Woland (Satan) and his retinue—including the vodka-drinking black cat, Behemoth;... more

Neil Gaiman@Slavinskas_art I love that book. (Source)

Max LevchinOne of the finest works of fiction of the last century. (Source)

Rupert IsaacsonIt’s all about compassion for yourself, for others and really how ultimately that’s all that matters. (Source)

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6
Three remarkable women--grandmother, mother, and daughter--struggle to survive in a true-life saga that spans 20th-century China with all its violence: wars, invasions, revolution, and continuing upheaval. A thrilling adventure story, Wild Swans is an important work of history, and a breathtaking testimony to the human spirit. 16 pages of photographs. less

Richard BransonToday is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime. (Source)

Vishakha DesaiTo me Wild Swans is one of those iconic books for understanding the generations of Chinese women. She is from this amazing intellectual family and it’s about what happens to them. The book just has this tremendous power. It’s an amazing journey. It’s about what women do to survive and also how they suffer. (Source)

Harry WuWild Swans is talking about people who are living at the highest level of society but they are still suffering persecution and live in fear. And the peasants in the village became slaves, they became nothing. So what the book does brilliantly is give a real insight into what life was like for ordinary people against the backdrop of the ever-changing China. (Source)

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7

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Solzhenitsyn's first book, this economical, relentless novel is one of the most forceful artistic indictments of political oppression in the Stalin-era Soviet Union. The simply told story of a typical, grueling day of the titular character's life in a labor camp in Siberia, is a modern classic of Russian literature and quickly cemented Solzhenitsyn's international reputation upon publication in 1962. It is painfully apparent that Solzhenitsyn himself spent time in the gulags--he was imprisoned for nearly a decade as punishment for making derogatory statements about Stalin in a letter to a... more
Recommended by Robert Conquest, and 1 others.

Robert ConquestYes let’s do that as I’ve quite a lot to say about old Solzh. It was a critical book – an entirely objective account of a victim in a labour camp. Just one day in an ordinary labour camp. Not exaggerated, not even a particularly nasty day. The most extraordinary part is how is got printed. It ran contrary to everyone in the Communist Party in Russia, but the Novy Mir editor Tvardovsky snuck a... (Source)

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8
In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera tells the story of a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanizing and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover. This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places; brilliant and playful reflections; and a variety of styles to take its place as perhaps the major achievement of one of the world’s truly great writers. less

Evan Spiegel[Evan Spiegel said this was his favorite book.] (Source)

Iulia GhitaI like Milan Kundera’s books with his philosophical digressions that sometimes remind me of my own dilemmas, with The Unbearable Lightness of Being as my favourite. I find Kundera’s stories awfully sad, but yet so real, so close to human nature. I admit, I’m not a fan of happy endings, I prefer thought provoking endings. (Source)

Carlos EireThe title, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, comes from the main character’s obsession with the fact that all we have is the now, nothing else except the ever-moving now. (Source)

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9

Gulag

A History

The Gulag--a vast array of Soviet concentration camps that held millions of political and criminal prisoners--was a system of repression and punishment that terrorized the entire society, embodying the worst tendencies of Soviet communism. In this magisterial and acclaimed history, Anne Applebaum offers the first fully documented portrait of the Gulag, from its origins in the Russian Revolution, through its expansion under Stalin, to its collapse in the era of glasnost. Applebaum intimately re-creates what life was like in the camps and links them to the larger history of the Soviet Union.... more
Recommended by Edward Lucas, and 2 others.

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10

A Gentleman in Moscow

The mega-bestseller with more than 1.5 million readers that is soon to be a major television series

He can't leave his hotel. You won't want to.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility--a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of...
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Recommended by Bill Gates, Henry Medine, and 2 others.

Bill GatesIt seems like everyone I know has read this book. I finally joined the club after my brother-in-law sent me a copy, and I’m glad I did. Towles’s novel about a count sentenced to life under house arrest in a Moscow hotel is fun, clever, and surprisingly upbeat. Even if you don’t enjoy reading about Russia as much as I do (I’ve read every book by Dostoyevsky), A Gentleman in Moscow is an amazing... (Source)

Henry MedineI promote range and diversity. Thus, I recommend readers to expose themselves to as many different topics as possible. I usually have 2-4 books I refer back to at any given time. They range in topics from management, art, spirituality and philosophy. Trying to get the engineering thing going but don't much of a mind for science. (Source)

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11
Americans call the Second World War “The Good War.” But before it even began, America’s wartime ally Josef Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens—and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was finally defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war’s end, both the German and the Soviet killing sites fell behind the iron curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness.
Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of a single...
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Eric Weinstein[Eric Weinstein recommended this book on Twitter.] (Source)

Antony BeevorThis book is about…the Stalinist repression of the areas known as the borderlands, which Snyder has termed the bloodlands. Snyder is looking at the deliberate mass murder of civilians in a particular zone of Europe between about 1930, at the start of the second Ukraine famine, and 1945. (Source)

Edward LucasBloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin offers the best account of the most important and terrible years of the last century, when Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler jointly consigned the territories and people between their two empires to the meat-grinder. (Source)

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12

The Gulag Archipelago

(Abridged edition)

The Gulag Archipelago is Solzhenitsyn's masterwork, a vast canvas of camps, prisons, transit centres and secret police, of informers and spies and interrogators and also of heroism, a Stalinist anti-world at the heart of the Soviet Union where the key to survival lay not in hope but in despair.

The work is based on the testimony of some two hundred survivors, and on the recollection of Solzhenitsyn's own eleven years in labour camps and exile. It is both a thoroughly researched document and a feat of literary and imaginative power. This edition has been abridged into one...
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Recommended by Jordan B Peterson, and 1 others.

Jordan B Peterson"The Gulag Archipelago" audiobook is available now in the UK (https://t.co/FwqDKSEp2w) with a forward narrated by me as well as a Q&A with myself and Ignat Solzhenitsyn at the end of the book that I believe you'll enjoy! Who here has previously read the book? https://t.co/SHldoeI0sY (Source)

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13

Homage to Catalonia

In 1936 George Orwell travelled to Spain to report on the Civil War and instead joined the fight against the Fascists. This famous account describes the war and Orwell’s own experiences. Introduction by Lionel Trilling. less

Timothy SnyderThe reason why I am so fond of Homage to Catalonia, and see it as an even more relevant precursor to dissent, is that in it you can see a man of the Left learning to make the distinction that breaks down the Left with a big L into lots of little lefts. He comes to understand what Soviet power actually is, and that it is qualitatively different to the other sorts of Spanish left, or to European... (Source)

Ben ShapiroA lot of people have read Orwell's 1984, he actually wrote a book that's better. It's [this book]. (Source)

Timothy Garton AshAnyone who wants to go off and write about Egypt, Tunisia or Libya today should pack a copy of Homage to Catalonia. It’s brilliant reportage. As you know, it opens with a vignette of an Italian militiaman in the barracks in Barcelona and he only saw this guy for a few moments but it captures the excitement. (Source)

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14
In the long-awaited follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag, acclaimed journalist Anne Applebaum delivers a groundbreaking history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe after World War II and transformed in frightening fashion the individuals who came under its sway.

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism, a completely new political and moral system. In Iron...
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15

The Black Book of Communism

Crimes, Terror, Repression

Already famous throughout Europe, this international bestseller plumbs recently opened archives in the former Soviet bloc to reveal the actual, practical accomplishments of Communism around the world: terror, torture, famine, mass deportations, and massacres. Astonishing in the sheer detail it amasses, the book is the first comprehensive attempt to catalogue and analyze the crimes of Communism over seventy years.

"Revolutions, like trees, must be judged by their fruit," Ignazio Silone wrote, and this is the standard the authors apply to the Communist experience--in the China of...
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Recommended by Richard Wolin, and 1 others.

Richard WolinYes, this is really the leitmotif of my study too which has to do with the disillusionment with Utopianism and the way the hard realities about real existing Communism hit home in the late 60s and early 70s and the transition of the generation of student radicals from ultra left attitudes to becoming advocates of social movements, civil society and human rights activists. (Source)

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16

Darkness at Noon

The newly discovered lost text of Arthur Koestler’s modern masterpiece, Darkness at Noon—the haunting portrait of a revolutionary, imprisoned and tortured under totalitarian rule—is now restored and in a completely new translation.

Editor Michael Scammell and translator Philip Boehm bring us a brilliant novel, a remarkable discovery, and a new translation of an international classic.

In print continually since 1940, Darkness at Noon has been translated into over 30 languages and is both a stirring novel and a classic anti-fascist text. What...
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Recommended by Ben Domenech, and 1 others.

Ben DomenechA new translation of DARKNESS AT NOON takes what was always an important book and makes it great literature. https://t.co/ATmRSQTuaK (Source)

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17

Between Shades of Gray

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds...
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18

Mao

Based on a decade of research, and on interviews with many of Mao's close circle in China who have never talked before - and with virtually everyone outside China who had significant dealings with him - this is the most authoritative life of Mao ever written. It is full of startling revelations, exploding the myth of the Long March, and showing a completely unknown Mao: he was not driven by idealism or ideology; his intimate and intricate relationship with Stalin went back to the 1920s, ultimately bringing him to power; he welcomed Japanese occupation of much of China; and he schemed,... more
Recommended by Richard Branson, Harry Wu, and 2 others.

Richard BransonToday is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime. (Source)

Harry WuTo this day we don’t really know much about Mao’s personal history. The Communist Party portrays him as the Great Leader. His smiling image is everywhere. Even the political system still follows his model. So what Chang did was delve deeper to discover who is the real Mao? You hear from people like his private doctor talking about his personal history (Source)

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19

State and Revolution

2011 Reprint of 1932 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. "State and Revolution" (1917) describes the role of the State in society, the necessity of proletarian revolution, and the theoretic inadequacies of social democracy in achieving revolution. It describes the inherent nature of the State as a tool for class oppression, a creation born of one social class's desire to control all other social classes. Whether a dictatorship or a democracy, the State remains in the control of the ruling class. Even in a democratic capitalist... more

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20
In her most powerful novel yet, acclaimed author Lisa See returns to the story of sisters Pearl and May from Shanghai Girls, and Pearl’s strong-willed nineteen-year-old daughter, Joy. Reeling from newly uncovered family secrets, Joy runs away to Shanghai in early 1957 to find her birth father—the artist Z.G. Li, with whom both May and Pearl were once in love. Dazzled by him, and blinded by idealism and defiance, Joy throws herself into the New Society of Red China, heedless of the dangers in the Communist regime. Devastated by Joy’s flight and terrified for her safety, Pearl is determined to... more

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Don't have time to read the top Communism books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.
21

The Orphan Master's Son

An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master's Son follows a young man's journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world's most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea.

Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother - a singer "stolen" to Pyongyang - and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of...
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22

Breaking Stalin's Nose

One of Horn Book's Best Fiction Books of 2011

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.
A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.
But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally...
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23
Volume 1 of the gripping epic masterpiece, Solzhenitsyn's chilling report of his arrest and interrogation, which exposed to the world the vast bureaucracy of secret police that haunted Soviet society less

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24

The Lacuna

In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to...
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25

Secondhand Time

The Last of the Soviets

From the 2015 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Svetlana Alexievich, comes the first English translation of her latest work, an oral history of the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new Russia. Bringing together dozens of voices in her distinctive documentary style, Secondhand Time is a monument to the collapse of the USSR, charting the decline of Soviet culture and speculating on what will rise from the ashes of Communism. As in all her books, Alexievich gives voice to women and men whose stories are lost in the official narratives of nation-states,... more
Recommended by Sam Freedman, Stephanie Flanders, and 2 others.

Sam Freedman@martinbright It's amazing. Have you read Second Hand Time? Best book of the century so far for me. Just incredible. (Source)

Stephanie FlandersThe power comes from the stories themselves, the people she found and talked to. (Source)

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26
Winter of the World picks up right where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English, Welsh—enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, up to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs.

Carla von Ulrich, born of German and English parents, finds her life engulfed by the Nazi tide until she commits a deed of great courage and heartbreak. . . . American brothers Woody and Chuck Dewar, each with a...

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Recommended by Tudor Mihailescu, and 1 others.

Tudor MihailescuIt’s vacation time so I got brave enough to start a sizeable trilogy by Ken Follett, The Century (Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, Edge of Eternity). The only expectation I had was to enjoy a good story, take my mind off into a different space. And it delivers, it’s a nice blend of history and fiction, an absorbing story throughout 20th century. (Source)

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27
A New York Times bestseller, the shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived.

North Korea is isolated and hungry, bankrupt and belligerent. It is also armed with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin's Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. Very few born and raised in these camps have escaped. But Shin Donghyuk did.

In Escape from Camp 14, acclaimed...
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28

Child 44 (Leo Demidov, #1)

MGB officer Leo is a man who never questions the Party Line. He arrests whomever he is told to arrest. He dismisses the horrific death of a young boy because he is told to, because he believes the Party stance that there can be no murder in Communist Russia. Leo is the perfect soldier of the regime. But suddenly his confidence that everything he does serves a great good is shaken. He is forced to watch a man he knows to be innocent be brutally tortured. And then he is told to arrest his own wife. Leo understands how the State works: Trust and check, but check particularly on those we trust.... more

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29
Unrivalled in scope and brimming with human drama, A People’s Tragedy is the most vivid, moving and comprehensive history of the Russian Revolution available today.

‘A modern masterpiece’ Andrew Marr

‘The most moving account of the Russian Revolution since Doctor ZhivagoIndependent

Opening with a panorama of Russian society, from the cloistered world of the Tsar to the brutal life of the peasants, A People’s Tragedy follows workers, soldiers, intellectuals and villagers as their world is consumed by revolution and then...
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Recommended by Thomas Keneally, Roland Chambers, and 2 others.

Thomas KeneallyWell, I’ve chosen this because, from what I remember, it’s the book I most admired while I was writing about Russia because it gives the tremendous overall sweep of the entire catastrophe up to the end of the civil war in 1922 and the famine. Figes has the capacity to focus on people you’ve never heard of and show them as representatives of ideologies competing for control of the Russian state,... (Source)

Roland ChambersA People’s Tragedy is the most readable and illuminating history of the Russian revolution to be written, using material that only became available to historians following the Soviet Union’s collapse. (Source)

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30
In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women, there are a thousand stories just waiting to get out. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany - she meets Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary... more
Recommended by Will Storr, Hester Vaizey, and 2 others.

Will StorrWhat Stasiland does really well, is it shows that these aren’t just arguments. That these people believed these views to the roots of their souls. (Source)

Hester VaizeyA collection of stories about people whose lives have been affected by the Stasi. (Source)

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Don't have time to read the top Communism books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.
31

Ten Days that Shook the World



Ten Days That Shook the World is John Reed’s eyewitness account of the Russian Revolution. A contemporary journalist writing in the first flush of revolutionary enthusiasm, he gives a gripping record of the events in Petrograd in November 1917, when Lenin and the Bolsheviks finally seized power. Containing verbatim reports both of speeches by leaders and the chance comments of bystanders, set against an idealized backcloth of the proletariat, soldiers, sailors, and peasants uniting to throw off oppression, Reed’s account is the product of passionate...
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Recommended by Martin Sixsmith, and 1 others.

Martin SixsmithI like John Reed because he’s a journalist like myself, like yourself, and he was on hand to paint this fantastic, vivid picture of 1917. As you know, Warren Beatty turned it into that movie Reds in the 1980s that made revolution fun, sexy and exciting. John Reed debunks the great Soviet myth that October was a huge heroic struggle by the masses. He said: No, it wasn’t like that. The Winter... (Source)

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32
This collection has an active table of contents for readers to access each chapter of each of the following books in the library:

1) Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism
2) The April Theses: The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution
3) Materialism and Empirio-Criticism
4) The State and Revolution
5) WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

The above works details the complete aspects that Lenin contributed to build the foundation theory based Karl Marx to deliver the first socialistic country Soviets in the world.

Lenin pointed out in the...
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33
Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up and overtake Britain in less than 15 years. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives. Access to Communist Party archives has long been denied to all but the most loyal historians, but now a new law has opened up thousands of central and provincial documents that fundamentally change the way one can study the Maoist era. Frank Dikotter's astonishing, riveting and magnificently... more
Recommended by Joshua M. Brown, and 1 others.

Joshua M. BrownIt’s book 3 on my summer reading list and the revelations are eye-popping. Dikotter was among the first to gain access to formerly hidden government reports from the era. https://t.co/XdQtenV7vl https://t.co/zZ45fUeSiO (Source)

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34

The Sympathizer

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to... more

Bill GatesMost of the books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen about the Vietnam War focused on the American perspective. Nguyen’s award-winning novel offers much-needed insight into what it was like to be Vietnamese and caught between both sides. Despite how dark it is, The Sympathizer is a gripping story about a double agent and the trouble he gets himself into. (Source)

Andrew LiverisDow Chemical Company chairman and CEO Liveris will take this time to get away from heavier reading and enjoy some of the most highly acclaimed novels of the past year. (Source)

Michigan StudentsThe Sympathizer by @viet_t_nguyen is another one of my favorite books. With influences from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Nguyen tells a story not often heard by U.S. audiences in popular culture: the Vietnamese side of the Vietnam War. https://t.co/UzARPON6lL (Source)

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35

Voices from Chernobyl

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred at the Chernobyl complex in Pripyat. English-language reportage on the incident has, so far, focused on facts, names, and data; Voices from Chernobyl presents first-hand accounts of what happened to the people of Belarus and the fear, anger, and uncertainty that they lived through. In order to give voice to their experiences, Svetlana Alexievich interviewed hundreds of people (firefighters, disaster-cleanup technicians, and innocent citizens alike) affected by the meltdown. She presents these interviews in monologue... more

Craig MazinThese are sources I found fascinating and useful. Not ALL of them, but a bunch. First up, obviously... Svetlana Alexievich's Voices From Chernobyl. Absolutely essential, and heartbreaking, reading. There's a reason Ms. Alexievich has a Nobel Prize. (Source)

Kate BrownIt’s a very beautiful work and I think it gives you the emotional landscape of how people dealt with their anxieties, fears, the health problems that ensued, and their growing sense of disillusionment with their political leaders and the Communist party. (Source)

Rebecca AltmanWhat follows events like Chernobyl is a politics of measurement. Who counts? What counts? Who does the counting? How are boundaries drawn for the purposes of counting and comparing? And what is discounted, or never counted at all? (Source)

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36
An account of the brutish conditions in North Korea. The Aquariums of Pyongyang is a heartbreaking story of survival. It is to be understood that the story is not unique in that there are thousands of families in North Korea being persecuted and starved even today. That there are still operating concentration camps as well as the implementation of the 3-generation rule, wherein everyone in the family is punished up to 3-generations for even the most minuscule crimes. Above all The Aquariums of Pyongyang is the story of Kang Chol-Hwan's triumph over the North Korean government's... more
Recommended by Andrei Lankov, and 1 others.

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37

The Captive Mind

Written in Paris in the early 1950s, this book created instant controversy in its analysis of modern society that had allowed itself to be hypnotized by socio-political doctrines, and to accept totalitarian terror on the strength of a hypothetical future. less
Recommended by Timothy Snyder, Anne Applebaum, and 2 others.

Timothy SnyderYes. Milosz tried to explain – as the title suggests – how thinking people could accept communism from inside the communist system. How does one not resist or just endure, but actually place one’s mind in the system? He points to a number of ways in which the mind can adapt. You can accept one larger truth that guides your interpretation of all of the smaller untruths, accept a vision of the... (Source)

Anne ApplebaumThe Captive Mind isn’t a straight memoir. Although Milosz is writing about his own life and his past, he is also grappling with a larger subject: How his generation of liberal intellectuals came to collaborate with, and work alongside, the Communist party. And he is trying to understand his own behaviour: Why did I act that way? (Source)

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38

Witness

First published in 1952, Witness was at once a literary effort, a philosophical treatise, and a bestseller. Whittaker Chambers had just participated in America's trial of the century in which Chambers claimed that Alger Hiss, a full-standing member of the political establishment, was a spy for the Soviet Union. This poetic autobiography recounts the famous case, but also reveals much more. Chambers' worldview--e.g. "man without mysticism is a monster"--went on to help make political conservatism a national force.
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Recommended by Grover Norquist, and 1 others.

Grover NorquistI read both of them in the same summer at my public library, in Weston Public Library. (Source)

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39

Capital, Vol. 1

A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production

Capital, one of Marx's major and most influential works, was the product of thirty years close study of the capitalist mode of production in England, the most advanced industrial society of his day. This new translation of Volume One, the only volume to be completed and edited by Marx himself, avoids some of the mistakes that have marred earlier versions and seeks to do justice to the literary qualities of the work. The introduction is by Ernest Mandel, author of Late Capitalism, one of the only comprehensive attempts to develop the theoretical legacy of Capital. less
Recommended by Liam Martin, and 1 others.

Liam MartinMax Weber Protestant Ethic, and Karl Marx's Capital had a huge impact on me. If you read Marx with a critical critique you can see that he's laid out a fantastic framework on how capitalism works, I do disagree with his core premise (capitalism being bad) so I took it as a great way to understand how I could operate inside of a capitalist economy. Weber on the other hand shows you exactly how to... (Source)

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40

Life and Fate

A book judged so dangerous in the Soviet Union that not only the manuscript but the ribbons on which it had been typed were confiscated by the state, Life and Fate is an epic tale of World War II and a profound reckoning with the dark forces that dominated the twentieth century.

Interweaving a transfixing account of the battle of Stalingrad with the story of a single middle-class family, the Shaposhnikovs, scattered by fortune from Germany to Siberia, Vasily Grossman fashions an immense, intricately detailed tapestry depicting a time of almost unimaginable horror and even...
more
Recommended by Antony Beevor, Francis Spufford, and 2 others.

Antony BeevorLife and Fate…is probably the most important work of fiction about World War II. But, in fact, it is more than just a fiction because it is based on very close reporting from his time with the soldiers. It is a deliberate act of literary homage to Tolstoy as one can see in the title. It is definitely the War and Peace of the 20th century. (Source)

Francis SpuffordIt is about the strange interval of freedom during the Second World War in which the Soviet regime had to trust its people because it couldn’t compel their loyalty. (Source)

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41
“During the first two months of 1917 Russia was still a Romanov monarchy. Eight months later the Bolsheviks stood at the helm. They were little known to anybody when the year began, and their leaders were still under indictment for state treason when they came to power. You will not find another such sharp turn in history especially if you remember that it involves a nation of 150 million people. It is clear that the events of 1917, whatever you think of them, deserve study.”
--Leon Trotsky, from History of the Russian Revolution

Regarded by many as among the most powerful...
more
Recommended by Roland Chambers, and 1 others.

Roland ChambersI chose this book because almost everything that people read about the Russian revolution is written by Westerners, partly because the official histories written under Stalin were incredibly boring and predictable. That all changed when the archives opened up after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but there’s a gap all the same, which Trotsky tried to fill. (Source)

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42

The momentous new book from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gulag and Iron Curtain.

In 1932-33, nearly four million Ukrainians died of starvation, having been deliberately deprived of food. It is one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the twentieth century. With unprecedented authority and detail, Red Famine investigates how this happened, who was responsible, and what the consequences were. It is the fullest account yet published of these terrible events.

The book draws on a mass of archival material and first-hand testimony only...

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43

Communism

A History

With astonishing authority and clarity, Richard Pipes has fused a lifetime’s scholarship into a single focused history of Communism, from its hopeful birth as a theory to its miserable death as a practice. At its heart, the book is a history of the Soviet Union, the most comprehensive reorganization of human society ever attempted by a nation-state. This is the story of how the agitation of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, two mid-nineteenth-century European thinkers and writers, led to a great and terrible world religion that brought down a mighty empire, consumed the world in conflict, and... more

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44

The Conquest of Bread


The fourth in AK Press’ Working Classics series, The Conquest of Bread is Peter Kropotkin’s most extensive study of human needs and his outline of the most rational and equi-table means of satisfying them. A combination of detailed historical analysis and far-reaching utopian vision, this is a step-by-step guide to social revolution: the concrete means of achieving it, and the world that humanity’s “constructive genius” is capable of creating. Includes a new introduction that historically situates and discusses the contemporary relevance of Kropotkin’s ideas.
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45

Young Stalin (Joseph Stalin, #1)

'Young Stalin' is an adventure story about an exceptional, turbulent young man, born in exoticism, raised in the church, fancying himself a poet, then embracing revolutionary idealism and thereby finding his romantic Messianic mission in life.

Culminating in the 1917 revolution, Simon Sebag Montefiore's bestselling biography radically alters our understanding of the gifted politician and fanatical Marxist who shaped the Soviet empire in his own brutal image. This is the story of how Stalin became Stalin.
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Recommended by Thomas Keneally, and 1 others.

Thomas KeneallyThis is an extensive picture of the pre-revolutionary Bolshevik at the tougher prison-going end of the spectrum, far removed from the leafiness implicit in the pictures of Lenin and Krupskaya in exile in Switzerland. It is a much harder experience that Stalin goes through. You can see in the young Stalin considerable signals that he is a very strange man of certain twitches, but a man of great... (Source)

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46
From a childhood survivor of the Camdodian genocide under the regime of Pol Pot, this is a riveting narrative of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her family, and their triumph of spirit.

One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung's family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for...
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47

Red Scarf Girl

Moving, honest, and deeply personal, Red Scarf Girl is the incredible true story of one girl’s courage and determination during one of the most terrifying eras of the twentieth century.

It's 1966, and twelve-year-old Ji-li Jiang has everything a girl could want: brains, popularity, and a bright future in Communist China. But it's also the year that China's leader, Mao Ze-dong, launches the Cultural Revolution—and Ji-li's world begins to fall apart. Over the next few years, people who were once her friends and neighbors turn on her and her family, forcing them to live in constant...
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48

We the Living

Ayn Rand's first published novel, a timeless story that explores the struggles of the individual against the state in Soviet Russia.

First published in 1936, We the Living portrays the impact of the Russian Revolution on three human beings who demand the right to live their own lives and pursue their own happiness. It tells of a young woman’s passionate love, held like a fortress against the corrupting evil of a totalitarian state.

We the Living is not a story of politics, but of the men and women who have to struggle for existence behind the Red banners and slogans. It...
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49
In the tradition of John Reed's classic Ten Days That Shook the World, this bestselling account of the collapse of the Soviet Union combines the global vision of the best historical scholarship with the immediacy of eyewitness journalism. "A moving illumination . . . Remnick is the witness for us all." —Wall Street Journal. less
Recommended by Stephen Lucas, Edward Lucas, and 2 others.

Stephen LucasIf you’re not that interested in the intricacies of Soviet law but just want to know what it was like, this is what it was like. (Source)

Edward LucasTo understand the collapse of communism at first hand, the unrivalled account is the Pulitzer-prize winning Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. (Source)

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50

Animal Farm / 1984

This edition features George Orwell's best known novels – 1984 and Animal Farm – with an introduction by Christopher Hitchens.

In 1984, London is a grim city where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind.  Winston Smith joins a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.

Animal Farm is Orwell's classic satire of the Russian Revolution -- an...
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51

Anthem

This expanded edition of Ayn Rand's classic tale of a future dark age of the great "We"--in which individuals have no name, no independence, and no values--is a beautifully written, powerful novel that projects current social trends into the future, and anticipates such later Rand masterpieces as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. less
Recommended by Steve Jobs, Ev Williams, and 2 others.

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52
Victor Sebestyen’s riveting biography of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin—the first major biography in English in nearly two decades—is not only a political examination of one of the most important historical figures of the twentieth century but also a fascinating portrait of Lenin the man.

Brought up in comfort and with a passion for hunting and fishing, chess, and the English classics, Lenin was radicalized after the execution of his brother in 1887. Sebestyen traces the story from Lenin’s early years to his long exile in Europe and return to Petrograd in 1917 to lead the first Communist...
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Recommended by Ben Horowitz, and 1 others.

Ben HorowitzA thrilling biography that provides great insight into how Communism works in practice. (Source)

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53

Imperium

The Polish journalist whose The Soccer War and The Emperor are counted as classics of contemporary reportage now bears witness in Imperium to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. This magisterial book combines childhood memory with unblinking journalism, a radar for the truth with a keen appreciation of the absurd.

Imperium begins with Ryszard Kapuscinski's account of the Soviet occupation of his town in eastern Poland in 1939. It culminates fifty years later, with a forty-thousand-mile journey that takes him from the haunted corridors of the Kremlin...
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Recommended by Geoff Dyer, and 1 others.

Geoff DyerI think he’s really great. We’re talking about authors’ humanity – the capacity for empathy, this kind of stuff. With Kapuściński it seems to me you get all that, but it’s combined with politics and reportage telling you what’s going on in different places. Now, of course there are question marks about Kapuściński – about the reconcilability or not of the obligation to tell the truth and report... (Source)

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54
From the award-winning author of A People's Tragedy and Natasha's Dance, a landmark account of what private life was like for Russians in the worst years of Soviet repression
 
There have been many accounts of the public aspects of Stalin's dictatorship: the arrests and trials, the enslavement and killing in the gulags. No previous book, however, has explored the regime's effect on people's personal lives, what one historian called "the Stalinism that entered into all of us." Now, drawing on a huge collection of newly discovered documents, The Whisperers reveals...
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55
A historian of fascism offers a guide for surviving and resisting America’s turn towards authoritarianism.

On November 9th, millions of Americans woke up to the impossible: the election of Donald Trump as president. Against all predictions, one of the most-disliked presidential candidates in history had swept the electoral college, elevating a man with open contempt for democratic norms and institutions to the height of power.

Timothy Snyder is one of the most celebrated historians of the Holocaust. In his books Bloodlands and Black Earth, he has carefully...
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George SaundersPlease read this book. So smart, so timely. (Source)

Tom Holland"There isn’t a page of this magnificent book that does not contain some fascinating detail and the narrative is held together with a novelist’s eye for character and theme." #Dominion https://t.co/FESSNxVDLC (Source)

Maya WileyProf. Tim Snyder, author of “In Tyranny” reminded us in that important little book that we must protect our institutions. #DOJ is one of our most important in gov’t for the rule of law. This is our collective house & #Barr should be evicted. https://t.co/PPxM9IMQUm (Source)

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56

Life and Death in Shanghai

A first-hand account of China's cultural revolution.

A first-hand account of China's cultural revolution. Nien Cheng, an anglophile and fluent English-speaker who worked for Shell in Shanghai under Mao, was put under house arrest by Red Guards in 1966 and subsequently jailed. All attempts to make her confess to the charges of being a British spy failed; all efforts to indoctrinate her were met by a steadfast and fearless refusal to accept the terms offered by her interrogators. When she was released from prison she was told that her daughter had committed suicide. In fact Meiping...
more
Recommended by Gunhee Park, Rana Mitter, and 2 others.

Gunhee ParkI can’t narrow down one favorite book, but there are a few that have had a strong impact on me over the past few years. Life and Death in Shanghai and Man’s Search for Meaning are great non-business books that have helped me gain a deeper perspective on life. Both books also helps you gain a stronger appreciation of the times we live in today. (Source)

Rana MitterI think it’s right that Graham Peck was disappointed by the Cultural Revolution. This, of course, was essentially a revolt by Mao against his own party. Mao on one level fears that he is being sidelined by his own party, and on another level feels that the revolution had lost steam 17 years in. A new generation had been born that didn’t remember the struggles of [1949] and it was time to... (Source)

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57

Stalin

The Court of the Red Tsar

An alternative cover edition for ISBN 9781400076789 can be found here

This widely acclaimed biography provides a vivid and riveting account of Stalin and his courtiers—killers, fanatics, women, and children—during the terrifying decades of his supreme power. In a seamless meshing of exhaustive research and narrative ?lan, Simon Sebag Montefiore gives us the everyday details of a monstrous life.We see Stalin playing his deadly game of power and paranoia at debauched dinners at Black Sea villas and...
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Recommended by Elon Musk, and 1 others.

Elon MuskOne of the few books so dark I had to stop reading. (Source)

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58

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

In this enchanting tale about the magic of reading and the wonder of romantic awakening, two hapless city boys are exiled to a remote mountain village for reeducation during China's infamous Cultural Revolution. There they meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, they find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined. less

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59

Kolyma Tales

It is estimated that some three million people died in the Soviet forced-labour camps of Kolyma, in the northeastern area of Siberia. Shalamov himself spent seventeen years there, and in these stories he vividly captures the lives of ordinary people caught up in terrible circumstances, whose hopes and plans extended to further than a few hours This new enlarged edition combines two collections previously published in the United States as Kolyma Tales and Graphite. less
Recommended by David Olusoga, and 1 others.

David OlusogaFive Books aims to keep its book recommendations and interviews up to date. If you are the interviewee and would like to update your choice of books (or even just what you say about them) please email us at [email protected] (Source)

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60
In this classic, John le Carre's third novel and the first to earn him international acclaim, he created a world unlike any previously experienced in suspense fiction. With unsurpassed knowledge culled from his years in British Intelligence, le Carre brings to light the shadowy dealings of international espionage in the tale of a British agent who longs to end his career but undertakes one final, bone-chilling assignment. When the last agent under his command is killed and Alec Leamas is called back to London, he hopes to come in from the cold for good. His spymaster, Control, however, has... more
Recommended by Ben Macintyre, Keith Jeffery, and 2 others.

Ben MacintyreI think it sets the standard for all spy literature. It’s very hard to improve on The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. It’s the classic le Carré recipe of compromised individuals trying to find their way through a labyrinth of deception and self-deception (Source)

Keith JefferyThis is at the far end of the spectrum from James Bond, but it also says a lot about the bureaucracy of the Service. (Source)

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61

The Great Terror

A Reassessment

The definitive work on Stalin's purges, Robert Conquest's The Great Terror was universally acclaimed when it first appeared in 1968. Harrison Salisbury called it "brilliant...not only an odyssey of madness, tragedy, and sadism, but a work of scholarship and literary craftsmanship." And in recent years it has received equally high praise in the former Soviet Union, where it is now considered the definitive account of the period.
When Conquest wrote the original volume, he relied heavily on unofficial sources. With the advent of glasnost, an avalanche of new material became...

more

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62

Reform or Revolution

Why capitalism cannot overcome its internal contradictions and the working class cannot "reform" away exploitation and economic crises. less

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63
'The Forsaken' is the true story of the Americans who, to escape the privations and hopelessness of the Great Depression back home, emigrated to Stalinist Russia in pursuit of a brighter future. They found themselves in the midst of a massacre. less
Recommended by Harvey Klehr, Lyubov Vinogradova, and 2 others.

Harvey KlehrThis is a fairly recent book which is wonderful and very depressing. It is an account of a large number of Americans who were living in Russia in the 1930s. Many of them had gone there to work. Others had been taken by their parents who had wanted to help build socialism. And many of these people were caught up in the purge trials and hundreds of them were killed. Tzouliadis oriented his book... (Source)

Lyubov VinogradovaI’m sure this will be of interest to a Western audience. Its subject is those former American citizens who were made to give up American citizenship in exchange for Soviet citizenship. (Source)

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64

The Paper Cowboy

Though he thinks of himself as a cowboy, Tommy is really a bully.  He's always playing cruel jokes on classmates or stealing from the store. But Tommy has a reason: life at home is tough. His abusive mother isn't well; in fact, she may be mentally ill, and his sister, Mary Lou, is in the hospital badly burned from doing a chore it was really Tommy's turn to do. To make amends, Tommy takes over Mary Lou's paper route. But the paper route also becomes the perfect way for Tommy to investigate his neighbors after stumbling across a copy of The Daily Worker, a communist newspaper.
more

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65
“The Chinese Communist party refers to its victory in 1949 as a 'liberation.' In China the story of liberation and the revolution that followed is not one of peace, liberty, and justice. It is first and foremost a story of calculated terror and systematic violence.” So begins Frank Dikötter's stunning and revelatory chronicle of Mao Zedong's ascension and campaign to transform the Chinese into what the party called New People. Following the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek in 1949, after a bloody civil war, Mao hoisted the red flag over Beijing's Forbidden City, and the world watched as the... more

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66
Almost a decade in the making, this much-anticipated grand history of postwar Europe from one of the world's most esteemed historians and intellectuals is a singular achievement. Postwar is the first modern history that covers all of Europe, both east and west, drawing on research in six languages to sweep readers through thirty-four nations and sixty years of political and cultural change-all in one integrated, enthralling narrative. Both intellectually ambitious and compelling to read, thrilling in its scope and delightful in its small details, Postwar is a rare joy.
more
Recommended by David Marquand, Keith Lowe, and 2 others.

David MarquandThis book is all about the way that Europe has managed – not always totally successfully, but managed nevertheless – to come to terms with its bloody and horrible past. (Source)

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67
Almost two decades after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR, leading historian Robert Service examines the history of communism throughout the world. Comrades! moves from Marx and Lenin to Mao and Castro and beyond to trace communism from its beginnings to the present day. Offering vivid portraits of the protagonists and decisive events in communist history, Service looks not only at the high politics of communist regimes but also at the social conditions that led millions to support communism in so many countries. After outlining communism's origins with... more

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68

The Revolution Betrayed

One of Marxism's most important texts, The Revolution Betrayed explores the fate of the Russian Revolution after Lenin's death. Written in 1936 and published the following year, this brilliant and profound evaluation of Stalinism from the Marxist standpoint prophesied the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent related events.
The effects of the October Revolution led to the establishment of a nationalized planned economy, demonstrating the practicality of socialism for the first time. By the 1930s, however, the Soviet workers' democracy had crumbled into a state of...
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69

Pyongyang

A Journey in North Korea

Famously referred to as one of the "Axis of Evil" countries, North Korea remains one of the most secretive and mysterious nations in the world today. In early 2001 cartoonist Guy Delisle became one of the few Westerners to be allowed access to the fortress-like country. While living in the nation's capital for two months on a work visa for a French film animation company, Delisle observed what he was allowed to see of the culture and lives of the few North Koreans he encountered; his findings form the basis of this graphic novel.

Guy Delisle was born in Quebec City in 1966 and has...
more
Recommended by Sung J. Woo, and 1 others.

Sung J. WooWell, this is a comic book really, or a graphic novel if you want to make it sound more serious. Although it’s non-fiction, actually. It’s by a French guy, which is surprising. He went to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, to supervise an animation and he was there for two months getting to know the country. So this book is really a collection of his observations and how he saw the country... (Source)

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70

A Night Divided

From NYT bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen comes a stunning thriller about a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west.

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can't help herself. She sees the East German...
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71
Human rights activist Park, who fled North Korea with her mother in 2007 at age 13 and eventually made it to South Korea two years later after a harrowing ordeal, recognized that in order to be "completely free," she had to confront the truth of her past. It is an ugly, shameful story of being sold with her mother into slave marriages by Chinese brokers, and although she at first tried to hide the painful details when blending into South Korean society, she realized how her survival story could inspire others. Moreover, her sister had also escaped earlier and had vanished into China for... more

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72

Che Guevara

A Revolutionary Life

"Acclaimed around the world and a national best-seller, this is the definitive work on Che Guevara, the dashing rebel whose epic dream was to end poverty and injustice in Latin America and the developing world through armed revelation. Jon Lee Anderson's biography traces Che's extraordinary life, from his comfortable Argentine upbringing to the battlefields of the Cuban revolution, from the halls of power in Castro's government to his failed campaign in the Congo and assassination in the Bolivian Jungle.

Anderson has had unprecedented access to the personal archives maintained by...
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73
In February 1917, in the midst of bloody war, Russia was still an autocratic monarchy: nine months later, it became the first socialist state in world history. How did this unimaginable transformation take place? How was a ravaged and backward country, swept up in a desperately unpopular war, rocked by not one but two revolutions?

This is the story of the extraordinary months between those upheavals, in February and October, of the forces and individuals who made 1917 so epochal a year, of their intrigues, negotiations, conflicts and catastrophes. From familiar names like Lenin and...
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74
A recent poll showed 43% of Americans think more socialism would be a good thing. What do these people not know?

Socialism has killed millions, but it’s now the ideology du jour on American college campuses and among many leftists. Reintroduced by leaders such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the ideology manifests itself in starry-eyed calls for free-spending policies like Medicare-for-all and student loan forgiveness.

In The Case Against Socialism, Rand Paul outlines the history of socialism, from Stalin’s gulags to...
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Donald J. TrumpSenator Rand Paul just wrote a great book, “The Case Against Socialism” which is now out. Highly recommended – as America was founded on LIBERTY & INDEPENDENCE – not government coercion, domination & control. We were born free, and will stay free, as long as I am your President! (Source)

Cliff MaloneySpent time in NYC with the great @KelleyAshbyPaul and @RandPaul discussing their new book: “THE CASE AGAINST SOCIALISM” A great read for Americans interested in how incentives and markets actually work #MakeLibertyWin @YALiberty https://t.co/Kl4dGei4jQ (Source)

Kimberly GuilfoyleCongrats to @randpaul on his fantastic new book THE CASE AGAINST SOCIALISM! Worth a read if you want to defeat this radical ideology. Get your copy now: https://t.co/YXGgSO84i1 https://t.co/jxeE9IGI4N (Source)

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75

The Origins of Totalitarianism

Hannah Arendt's definitive work on totalitarianism and an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history

The Origins of Totalitarianism begins with the rise of anti-Semitism in central and western Europe in the 1800s and continues with an examination of European colonial imperialism from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two...
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Recommended by Ruth Ben-Ghiat, and 1 others.

Ruth Ben-GhiatHer most useful (and her most chilling) conclusion for today is that totalitarian tools were not specific to Nazism or Stalinism or any ideology. Arendt’s words should be studied today by those who want to prevent the further spread of authoritarian regimes and the ideologies they are propagating. (Source)

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76

We

The exhilarating dystopian novel that inspired George Orwell's 1984 and foreshadowed the worst excesses of Soviet Russia

Yevgeny Zamyatin's We is a powerfully inventive vision that has influenced writers from George Orwell to Ayn Rand. In a glass-enclosed city of absolute straight lines, ruled over by the all-powerful 'Benefactor', the citizens of the totalitarian society of OneState live out lives devoid of passion and creativity - until D-503, a mathematician who dreams in numbers, makes a discovery: he has an individual soul. Set in the twenty-sixth century AD,...
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77

مبادئ الشيوعية

Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820 - August 5, 1895) was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, working in close collaboration alongside Karl Marx. In 1845, he published "The Condition of the Working Class in England," based on personal observations and research. In 1848, he produced with Marx "The Communist Manifesto" and later he supported Marx financially to do research and write "Das Kapital." After Marx's death Engels edited the second and third volumes. Additionally, Engels organized Marx's notes on the "Theories... more

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78
The Commissar Vanishes offers a chilling look at how one man - Joseph Stalin - manipulated the science of photography to advance his own political career and to erase memories off his victims. On Stalin's orders, purged rivals were airbrushed from group portraits, and crowd scenes were altered to depict even greater legions of the faithful. In one famous image, several Party members disappeared from an official photograph, to be replaced by a sylvan glade. For the past three decades, author and photohistorian David King has assembled the world's largest archive of photographs, posters,... more
Recommended by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, and 1 others.

Viktor Mayer-SchönbergerThis book is intriguing because it’s not focusing on something that happens in our mind. It is about what others do to our externalised memory. (Source)

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79

Mao's Last Dancer

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

The extraordinary memoir of a peasant boy raised in rural Maoist China who was plucked from his village to study ballet and went on to become one of the greatest dancers of his generation.

From a desperately poor village in northeast China, at age eleven, Li Cunxin was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural delegates to be taken from his rural home and brought to Beijing, where he would study ballet. In 1979, the young dancer arrived in Texas as part of a cultural exchange, only to fall in love with America-and with an American woman. Two...
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80
This is an epic of love, hatred, war and revolution. This is a huge novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women.
It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S....
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Recommended by Tudor Mihailescu, and 1 others.

Tudor MihailescuIt’s vacation time so I got brave enough to start a sizeable trilogy by Ken Follett, The Century (Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, Edge of Eternity). The only expectation I had was to enjoy a good story, take my mind off into a different space. And it delivers, it’s a nice blend of history and fiction, an absorbing story throughout 20th century. (Source)

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81

Socialism

Utopian and Scientific

Socialism, Utopian and Scientific needs no preface. It ranks with the Communist Manifesto as one of the indispensable books for any one desiring to understand the modern socialist movement. It has been translated into every language where capitalism prevails, and its circulation is more rapid than ever before. less

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82
The text of "Wage-Labour and Capital" came from lectures Marx delivered to the German Workmen's Club of Brussels in 1847, a time of great political upheaval. The relation between wage-labour to capital is a core concept in Marx's analysis of political economy. This book is an essential, a foundation to understanding the development of Marxist theory. "Price. Value and Profit" was written in 1865. The different parts, as in the title decomposes into 'surplus value' (the essential economic building block in Marism). This book, again, is basic to understanding the development of Marist theory. A... more

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83
The definitive, dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, based on original reporting and new archival research.

April 25, 1986, in Chernobyl, was a turning point in world history. The disaster not only changed the world’s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet’s delicate ecology. With the images of the abandoned homes and playgrounds beyond the barbed wire of the 30-kilometer Exclusion Zone, the rusting graveyards of contaminated trucks and helicopters, the farmland lashed with black...
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Recommended by Maggie Koerthbaker, and 1 others.

Maggie KoerthbakerSo I'm reading "Midnight in Chernobyl" because obviously TV viewing needs to come with a syllabus afterwards. https://t.co/bWCLHTy7fq It is very interesting contrasting the fictionalized show, the history book, and the essays meant to debunk aspects of the show. (Source)

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84

The Quiet American

Graham Greene's classic exploration of love, innocence, and morality in Vietnam

"I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused," Graham Greene's narrator Fowler remarks of Alden Pyle, the eponymous "Quiet American" of what is perhaps the most controversial novel of his career. Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission to Saigon, where the French Army struggles against the Vietminh guerrillas. As young Pyle's well-intentioned policies blunder into bloodshed, Fowler, a seasoned and cynical British reporter, finds...
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Richard BransonToday is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime. (Source)

Barack Obama"According to the president’s Facebook page and a 2008 interview with the New York Times, these titles are among his most influential forever favorites: Moby Dick, Herman Melville Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson Song Of Solomon, Toni Morrison Parting The Waters, Taylor Branch Gilead, Marylinne Robinson Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton Souls of Black... (Source)

Ian BurumaThe Quiet American is much more about America than it is about Indo-China. The titular character is an idealistic young man in Indo-China, probably working for the CIA, whose well-meaning actions cause havoc. That is a sort of microcosm for what has actually happened in various parts of the world because of American intervention. The Dutch and the British colonial enterprise was largely a... (Source)

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85
An unimpeachable classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. Originally published in 1944—when Eleanor Roosevelt supported the efforts of Stalin, and Albert Einstein subscribed lock, stock, and barrel to the socialist program—The Road to Serfdom was seen as heretical for its passionate warning against the dangers of state control over the means of production. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with... more

Geoffrey Miller@bdmarotta No, The Road to Serfdom by Hayek is the best book on modern evil (Source)

Yuval LevinThe Road to Serfdom is a very polemical book. It was published in 1944. It’s a warning not exactly about Communism, but about the coming of statism in the West, about the ways that some of the governing élites that Hayek saw, especially in Britain, thought about governing. The book is really mostly about Britain. He talks about the dangers of central planning, of the attempt to take over the... (Source)

Mitch DanielsThis book convincingly demonstrated what was already intuitive to me: namely, the utter futility, the illusion of government planning as a mechanism for uplifting those less fortunate. (Source)

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86
A magnificent new biography that revolutionizes our understanding of Stalin and his world

It has the quality of myth: A poor cobbler’s son, a seminarian from an oppressed outer province of the Russian empire, reinvents himself as a revolutionary and finds a leadership role within a small group of marginal zealots. When the old world is unexpectedly brought down in a total war, the band seizes control of the country, and the new regime it founds as the vanguard of a new world order is ruthlessly dominated from within by the former seminarian until he stands as the absolute...
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87

The Condition of the Working Class in England

The Condition of the Working Class is the best-known work of Engels, and in many ways still the best study of the working class in Victorian England. It was also Engels's first book, written during his stay in Manchester from 1842 to 1844. Manchester was then at the very heart of the Industrial Revolution and Engels compiled his study from his own observations and detailed contemporary reports. The fluency of his writing, the personal nature of his insights, and his talent for mordant satire combine to make this account of the life of the victims of early industrial change into a classic - a... more

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88
A groundbreaking contribution to the history of the "long Civil Rights movement," Hammer and Hoe tells the story of how, during the 1930s and 40s, Communists took on Alabama's repressive, racist police state to fight for economic justice, civil and political rights, and racial equality.

The Alabama Communist Party was made up of working people without a Euro-American radical political tradition: devoutly religious and semiliterate black laborers and sharecroppers, and a handful of whites, including unemployed industrial workers, housewives, youth, and renegade liberals. In...
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Recommended by Imani Perry, and 1 others.

Imani PerryIt’s an adept Marxian analysis of Alabama, and an economic and sociopolitical analysis of the region that is at the core of black life in the United States. Kelly drew from archives to deliver a strong sense of what black life was like in agricultural Alabama. It’s both a beautiful book and an instructive one. (Source)

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89
2013 Reprint of 1929 Edition. Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. In "What Is to Be Done?," Lenin argues that the working class will not spontaneously become political simply by fighting economic battles with employers over wages, working hours and the like. To convert the working class to Marxism, Lenin insists that Marxists should form a political party, or "vanguard," of dedicated revolutionaries to spread Marxist political ideas among the workers. The pamphlet partly precipitated the split of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party... more

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90
The first Westerner to meet Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Communist leaders in 1936, Edgar Snow came away with the first authorized account of Mao’s life, as well as a history of the famous Long March and the men and women who were responsible for the Chinese revolution. Out of that experience came Red Star Over China, a classic work that remains one of the most important books ever written about the birth of the Communist movement in China. This edition includes extensive notes on military and political developments in China, further interviews with Mao Tse-tung, a chronology covering 125... more
Recommended by Elizabeth Perry, John M Hamilton, and 2 others.

Elizabeth Perryin some ways it seems the most dated of the books I’ve chosen, because it presents a totally rosy portrait of the Communist revolution. But I think for understanding modern China it’s extremely important. And that’s because it does, in rather sympathetic but comprehensive detail, point out both the importance of the land revolution, and the nationalistic revolution, as key elements in Mao... (Source)

John M HamiltonThis arguably is the most important book by an American foreign correspondent in the 20th century. At the time it was written in the mid-1930s nobody knew who the communists were. Many thought they were mere bandits. Snow went to the north-west of China to find them. When his book came out the whole equation changed; thereafter communism was understood to be a viable political movement. (Source)

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91
The harrowing true tale of seven escaped Soviet prisoners who desperately marched out of Siberia through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas to British India.
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92

Tons of jokes, tons of laughs, tons more time kids spend reading.

“Why do fish live in saltwater? Because pepper makes them sneeze!” The Big Book of Silly Jokes for Kids is brimming with over 800 knock-knock jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, and silly stats for endless hours of hilarious entertainment anywhere.

This illustrated collection of jokes for kids is inclusive and family-friendly, with knee-slappers that kids will be bursting to tell every chance they get (parents, you’ve been warned). The jokes also get more challenging with each chapter,...

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93
I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side--the Communist side--of the Iron Curtain. Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sí­s shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe. But adolescence brought questions. Cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Sí­s learned about beat poetry, rock 'n' roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow... more

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94

Red Plenty

"Spufford cunningly maps out a literary genre of his own . . . Freewheeling and fabulous." --The Times (London)

Strange as it may seem, the gray, oppressive USSR was founded on a fairy tale. It was built on the twentieth-century magic called "the planned economy," which was going to gush forth an abundance of good things that the lands of capitalism could never match. And just for a little while, in the heady years of the late 1950s, the magic seemed to be working. Red Plenty is about that moment in history, and how it came, and how it went away; about the...
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Recommended by Niall Kishtainy, and 1 others.

Niall KishtainyWhich side was going to win? Socialism or capitalism? He’s taken that episode in history, those few years, and created this incredible narrative. (Source)

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95

Drawing on his own incarceration and exile, as well as on evidence from more than 200 fellow prisoners and Soviet archives, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn reveals the entire apparatus of Soviet repression -- the state within the state that ruled all-powerfully.

Through truly Shakespearean portraits of its victims -- men, women, and children -- we encounter secret police operations, labor camps and prisons; the uprooting or extermination of whole populations, the "welcome" that awaited Russian soldiers who had been German prisoners of war. Yet we also witness the astounding moral courage...

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96

To the Finland Station

From the ideas of early 19th-century socialists to the thoughts of Marx, Engels, Lenin & Trotsky, Edmund Wilson traces the development of the political & intellectual movements that culminated in the Russian Revolution. TO THE FINLAND STATION is a work of history on a grand scale, at once sweeping, detailed, closely reasoned & passionately argued, that succeeds in painting an unforgettable picture--alive with conspirators, philosophers, utopians & nihilists--of the making of the modern world.
'The 1st thing that strikes us about To the Finland Station is the vastness of...
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97
A special 75th anniversary edition of Black Boy, Richard Wright's powerful and eloquent memoir of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. At once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment, Black Boy is a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.

When Black Boy exploded onto the literary scene in 1945, it caused a sensation. Orville Prescott of the New York Times wrote that “if enough such books are written, if enough millions of people read them...
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99

The Marx-Engels Reader

This revised and enlarged edition of the leading anthology provides the essential writings of Marx and Engels--those works necessary for an introduction to Marxist thought and ideology. less

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100

Tortured for Christ

One Man Who Dared to Stand Up

Months of solitary confinement, years of periodic physical torture, constant suffering from hunger and cold, the anguish of brainwashing and mental cruelty—these are the experiences of a Romanian pastor during his 14 years in Communist prisons.

His crime, like that of thousands of others, was his fervant belief in Jesus Christ and his public witness concerning that faith.

Meeting in homes, in basements, and in woods—sometimes daring to preach in public on street corners—these faithful souls persisted in their Christian witness...
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