The Last Stalinist: The Life of Santiago Carrillo by Paul Preston - review by Donald Sassoon

Donald Sassoon

El Zorro Rojo

The Last Stalinist: The Life of Santiago Carrillo


William Collins 432pp £30 order from our bookshop

In 1977 an old ghost in new clothes began to stalk Europe: Eurocommunism. The term was invented by a journalist to denote a novel type of Western communism, somewhat liberal, almost social democratic and anyway nicer, cosier and more stylish than the traditional Soviet brand (not a difficult enterprise). The term was soon adopted by the leaders of the communist parties of Italy (Enrico Berlinguer), France (Georges Marchais) and Spain (Santiago Carrillo), who met in Madrid in March of that year to affirm and reaffirm their commitment to Western democracy. The ghost scared only those who were easily scared or whose job it was to pretend to be scared by leftists (the secret services, Kissinger and such like). Eurocommunism annoyed the Russians, since it suggested that to win elections in the West one had to distance oneself from the East. Less than a decade later the phenomenon evanesced. It would have been swept away anyway by the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

The three leaders were not in the same position. In France Marchais was in alliance with the Parti socialiste, which was growing stronger by the day. In Italy, Berlinguer had scored a major electoral triumph in the elections of the previous year, bringing him almost level with the main governing

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter