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The Black Book of Communism – Crimes, Terror, Repression Hardcover – 8 Oct 1999


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Product description

Amazon.com Review

When it was first published in France in 1997, Le livre noir du Communisme touched off a storm of controversy that continues to rage today. Even some of his contributors shied away from chief editor Stéphane Courtois's conclusion that Communism, in all its many forms, was morally no better than Nazism; the two totalitarian systems, Courtois argued, were far better at killing than at governing, as the world learned to its sorrow.

Communism did kill, Courtois and his fellow historians demonstrate, with ruthless efficiency: 25 million in Russia during the Bolshevik and Stalinist eras, perhaps 65 million in China under the eyes of Mao Zedong, 2 million in Cambodia, millions more Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America--an astonishingly high toll of victims. This freely expressed penchant for homicide, Courtois maintains, was no accident, but an integral trait of a philosophy, and a practical politics, that promised to erase class distinctions by erasing classes and the living humans that populated them. Courtois and his contributors document Communism's crimes in numbing detail, moving from country to country, revolution to revolution. The figures they offer will likely provoke argument, if not among cliometricians then among the ideologically inclined. So, too, will Courtois's suggestion that those who hold Lenin, Trotsky, and Ho Chi Minh in anything other than contempt are dupes, witting or not, of a murderous school of thought--one that, while in retreat around the world, still has many adherents. A thought-provoking work of history and social criticism, The Black Book of Communism fully merits the broadest possible readership and discussion. --Gregory McNamee

From Booklist

Tabulators of the Red Terror from its inception in 1918 down to its vestigial continuation in such countries as North Korea and Cuba, the authors instigated an intellectual ruckus in France, a curious reception for this dry ledger of death. It was not, apparently, the recitation of killings that irked the left in France but Courtois' condemnation of Leninist regimes as criminal enterprises. That stance challenged the left's deeply seated tenets that communism, despite excesses, was progressive; that Stalinism was an effect of one personality, not an entire system; and that moral indictments of communism are mitigated by the unique evil of the Nazism it defeated. For even adumbrating a moral equivalence of the tyrannical -isms, Courtois' introduction was denounced as anti-Semitic by a Le Monde editorialist. History communism may be, but a comprehensive historical accounting has yet to be undertaken because academic historians tend to loathe such accounting as being subjective. But since 1989, the raw documentary material necessary to just discover what happened, let alone interpret it, has begun to emerge. This volume merely chronicles and quotes the draconian decrees and secret police reports that sanctioned mass executions, deportations, and the establishment of concentration camps; implemented the collectivization of land, which invariably caused famines that starved millions; or formulated plans for wars of aggression, as in Korea. Whether this work will agitate U.S. citizens as much as it has the French seems doubtful, but there remain precincts in the U.S. where it could ignite debate, especially among those who stubbornly cleave to a belief that Lenin, Mao, and Pol Pot were aberrations rather than the essence of communism. Gilbert Taylor

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (8 October 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674076087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674076082
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 5.1 x 26 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,27,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars 149 reviews
Edmund Pickett
2.0 out of 5 starsIncompetently scanned ebook version of a classic. Don't Buy!!
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LakeFisherman
5.0 out of 5 starsExcellent work
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5.0 out of 5 starsA MUST READ
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Thufir
5.0 out of 5 starsIt seems that the anointed and noble Communists commit murder in the name of ridding the world of war and poverty whilst killers
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Bookman73
5.0 out of 5 starsSolid Fact Book
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