My aim was to produce a thoroughly researched but readable history of Communism from its intellectual origins to the 21st century, showing the varied ways in which Communist systems came into being in different places, why they lasted for as long they did, and why and how they came to an end, as they have done almost everywhere. The most important of the few remaining Communist states is, of course, China. It remains highly authoritarian but, in important respects, it constitutes a hybrid system. The political power structure characteristic of Communism has been preserved. But the economy is vastly different. If Marx, Lenin or (more to the point) Mao could see it, they would be horrified by the extent to which a Communist Party has turned to the market and allowed the growth of a substantial private sector.
I might add that I was quite well prepared for the task of writing The Rise and Fall of Communism. I had been teaching courses on the comparative study of Communism, first in Glasgow and then for 34 years at Oxford. I had also a lot of experience of living and talking with people in Communist countries (at one point I spent an entire year in Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union).