Mankind's biggest mistake
The Rise and Fall of Communism. By Archie Brown. Ecco; 736 pages; $35.99. The Bodley Head; £25. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
Why did communism take root? Given its sorrowful harvest, why did it keep spreading? And what ever enabled it to last so long? Archie Brown's new history of communism identifies three big questions, perhaps even the biggest, of the past century.
At first sight, all seem puzzling. Communism was an impractical mishmash of ideas, imposed by squabbling zealots that promised much, delivered little and cost millions of lives. It is striking that 36 countries at one time or another adopted this system and that five—Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Vietnam and the biggest of them all, China—still pay lip service to it.
Jul 2nd 2009 , From The Economist print edition
This article can be accessed in its entirety at the author’s blog:
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