Communist ideology, inspired by the German-philosopher-turned- economic-historian Karl Marx, dominated large parts of the world for much of the 20th century. Even now, the Chinese communist party has celebrated over 70 years in power, with no plans to relinquish control of the country—even if its commitment to Marxist ideology is a little shakier. Our interviews on Communism cover its ideological formation, the history of its hold on Russia, China and elsewhere and its aftermath.
Professor Terrell Carver chooses his best books on Marx and Marxism and historian Robert Conquest his best books on Communism. Roland Chambers chooses his best books on the Russian Revolution and historical novelist Thomas Keneally his best on revolutionary Russia. Turning to the communist regime as it was established in Russia, Professor Robert Service discusses totalitarian Russia and Michael Nicholson, Emeritus Fellow of University College Oxford, chooses his best books on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Historian and journalist Anne Applebaum chooses her best memoirs of communism.
Turning to China, Richard McGregor, former FT bureau chief in Beijing, chooses his best books on the Chinese communist party. Professor Richard Baum looks at obstacles to reform in China and Jeffrey Wasserstrom chooses his best books on Tiananmen Square, June 4 1989. Rana Mitter, professor of the history and politics of modern China at Oxford University, chooses his best books on 100 years of modern China. Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in Chinese labour camps, discusses China’s darker side.
Journalist Nick Thorpe chooses his best books on the fall of Communism and Edward Lucas, former Moscow bureau chief for the Economist, looks at contemporary Russia.
The best books on Communism, recommended by Robert Conquest
Esteemed historian of the Soviet Union recommends five books on Communism, from novels and personal narratives to theoretical works.
The best books on Marx and Marxism, recommended by Terrell Carver
Few people have had their ideas reinvented as many times as the German intellectual and political activist, Karl Marx. Professor of political theory, Terrell Carver, takes us through the most influential books, in English, about Marx, Marxism and his friend, publicist and financial backer, Friedrich Engels.
The best books on Memoirs of Communism, recommended by Anne Applebaum
The traumas of the 20th century hit Eastern Europe hard – a region of changing borders, uncertain identity, and shattering of moral norms. The journalist and communism expert selects books that capture the spirit of the age.
The best books on The Fall of Communism, recommended by Nick Thorpe
Five recommendations from the BBC’s Central Europe correspondent, who witnessed the collapse of Yugoslavia, popular uprisings in Bulgaria and Serbia, and the transformation of non-violent to violent resistance in Kosovo
The best books on Contemporary Russia, recommended by Edward Lucas
Journalist and author Edward Lucas explains how a revanchist Russia can be traced back to Putin’s sense of betrayal after the collapse of the USSR
The best books on Communism in America, recommended by Harvey Klehr
Professor of politics and history at Emory University chooses five books on the American Communist movement and Soviet espionage in America—and argues that American spies did pose a genuine threat to national security
The best books on The Chinese Communist Party, recommended by Richard McGregor
Former Beijing bureau chief of the Financial Times shares his insights on the Chinese Communist Party – from the absolute horror at the destruction of Maoist times, to Yao Ming, to political power structures and more
The best books on June 4th, 1989, recommended by Jeffrey Wasserstrom
In contrast to Eastern Europe, the 1989 protests in China did not lead to the overthrow of the Communist Party. But if China’s leaders chose the right course on June 4th, 1989, why are they still frightened to come to terms with it? Sinologist and historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom picks the best books to understand events at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and around China on that hot summer night.
The best books on Romani History and Culture, recommended by Yaron Matras
Their language indicates they originated in India, but the music they play is world music. Some will tell your fortune but they don't believe in supernatural powers. Yaron Matras recommends the best books and dispels some common myths about Gypsies.
The best books on China and the Internet, recommended by Gady Epstein
The ‘Great Fire Wall of China’. How has the Chinese Communist Party managed to survive the internet? Economist correspondent Gady Epstein chooses books on the world’s most successful case of authoritarian control of the internet.
The best books on Obstacles to Political Reform in China, recommended by Richard Baum
The late China specialist and UCLA professor Richard Baum said that he sometimes felt genuine admiration for China’s technocratic leaders. Other days, he shook his head at their obsessive intransigence and China’s endemic political insecurity
The best books on The Russian Revolution, recommended by Roland Chambers
The Russian revolution was the beginning of the modern age, says award-winning author Roland Chambers. He tells us what Solzhenitsyn imagined Lenin was like, and about the children’s author who led a double life as a spy in Bolshevik Russia.
The best books on Modern China, recommended by Rana Mitter
In October 1911, China’s last imperial dynasty fell. The legacy of that revolution remains deeply ambiguous in today’s People’s Republic. China scholar Rana Mitter tells us about the country’s tumultuous changes from 1911 to the present day.
The Best Books About Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, recommended by Michael Nicholson
Russian literature specialist Michael Nicholson, Emeritus Fellow at University College, Oxford, talks us through the best books to learn more about the great Soviet dissident and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
The best books on Totalitarian Russia, recommended by Robert Service
Robert Service, Professor of Russian Studies at Oxford, when forced to choose between Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin, says Stalin was definitely the worst of the lot. He takes a look at the dynamics of totalitarian Russia, gleaning insights from Thucydides to Orwell.
The best books on Revolutionary Russia, recommended by Thomas Keneally
Best-selling author Thomas Keneally explains that the Cold War biographies couldn’t afford to say that Stalin was attractive, or that Lenin was magnetic, but they were, because otherwise people wouldn’t have followed them. He picks some great introductions to Revolutionary Russia.
The best books on China’s Darker Side, recommended by Harry Wu
Activist Harry Wu spent 19 years in Mao’s labour camps and devoted years to uncovering what goes on in China’s ‘laogai’ or ‘reform-through-labour’ camps. He picks five books showing China’s darker side.