This book is the crowning achievement of Archie Brown’s career. It is a history of communism from the middle of the nineteenth century until the present day. I have to admire this gigantic achievement, based on innumerable Russian and other sources and with a generous list of acknowledgements to other experts on the subject. Although the author does not reveal any truly important facts – about Russia, the rest of Europe, East Asia and Cuba – that were previously unknown to any well-educated reader, he systematises and conceptualises the subject brilliantly, saturating it in a wealth of lesser known details. For decades this volume will remain a definitive study of communism.
I could not help agreeing with the author on many vital points, such as the fact that The Communist Manifesto did not address the crucial matter of the political and legal institutions that would have to be established after the workers’ revolution. I was satisfied with Brown’s explanation