May 03, Laurent Szklarz added it. Mar 29, Riley rated it liked it. The one I got literally fell apart as I read it, and the essays were, in the end, disappointing. Of all the pieces, I liked the most that of Louis Fischer, a journalist who lived in the Soviet Union for a time.
A choice depends on the available alternative to it. I preferred fresh sweeping winds to stale stagnant air, and well-intentioned pioneers to proven failures. I thought they were sores on a healthy body which was building new cities and creating new values. I thought the favorable was fundamental and the unfavorable ephemeral.
Hope distorted judgment. Seeing did not interfere with believing. Not a few use the defects of the West to divert attention from the hideous horrors of Moscow. My own prescription is: Double Rejection. A free spirit, unfettered by economic bonds or intellectual bias, can turn his back on the evils of both worlds and strive, by improving his own, to create a condition of peace, prosperity and morality in which dictatorships on both sides of the Iron Curtain would suffocate and perish.
Feb 07, Darran Mclaughlin rated it liked it Shelves: essays , politics. A collection of personal essays published in by famous ex-communists or communist sympathizers who became disillusioned and ended up rejecting it. I have become increasingly left wing over the years so I wanted to read some criticism to test my thinking and see if I could be convinced that Communism is inherently wrong. I felt that all of the essays offered persuasive arguments and stark indictments against the dictatorial, oppressive, murderous Communism practiced and demanded by the Sovi A collection of personal essays published in by famous ex-communists or communist sympathizers who became disillusioned and ended up rejecting it.
I felt that all of the essays offered persuasive arguments and stark indictments against the dictatorial, oppressive, murderous Communism practiced and demanded by the Soviet Union under Stalin, but they didn't convince me that a better version of a Communist state was impossible. That's not to say that there may not be other books which will persuade me that some form of Communism is practically impossible without suffering the failings of countries like the Soviet Union, the P.
C or Cuba, but this book isn't it. The best part of this book was the fact that these six authors were all originally attracted to communism. The Initiates, the first section of the book, is written by three authors that were closely involved with the communist parties in pre-Nazi Germany, the USSR, and Italy.
The next section of this was the Distant Admirers, those involved with the communists far away, in the United States, or merely visitors to these countries. Much of this was dry, and hard to keep focus. Some experiences were The best part of this book was the fact that these six authors were all originally attracted to communism. Some experiences were interesting, but there were a good few sections where it was extremely boring. The biggest reason to read this is if you want specific examples of the flaws of communism. If I were to summarize the book in a single sentence, Communism just isn't as good as it originally appeared.
May 09, Beth Haynes marked it as to-read. This looks good This book contains the stories written by themselves of six individuals who strongly and openly embraced Communism, and later came to see its tragic and evil flaws. They write of the difficulty and the psychological pain involved in revising their world view.
I need to put this back on my to-read list for now but look forward to the time I can finish it. Oct 27, Lark Benobi rated it it was amazing Shelves: nonfiction , male-identified-authors. Thoughtful first-hand accounts that capture both the early moral zeal these writers felt toward Communism--their sense that it was the only theory of social organization that made moral sense--and then their path to disillusionment.
Koestler's observation that he had time to become a Communist only after he found a job with a living wage was enlightening, as was Wright's bafflement at being labeled an "intellectual" at Party meetings--even though he made his living as a street sweeper--because h Thoughtful first-hand accounts that capture both the early moral zeal these writers felt toward Communism--their sense that it was the only theory of social organization that made moral sense--and then their path to disillusionment.
Koestler's observation that he had time to become a Communist only after he found a job with a living wage was enlightening, as was Wright's bafflement at being labeled an "intellectual" at Party meetings--even though he made his living as a street sweeper--because he wore shoes to the meeting that he had shined beforehand. Aug 08, Prashanth Vaidyaraj rated it it was amazing.
The falsity of the Utopian ideology stands exposed in this work. The reason a communist agenda will fail and is bound to be rejected by people over time is the reason why Communist regimes have fallen by the side. The ideology purported by Marx is in a Utopian world is a fact and can never work in the diverse world where people cherish their culture,traditions and history. The authors also note personal experiences of people who experienced Communism first-hand and the reasons for abandoning it.
Nov 14, Joseph Novak rated it it was amazing. We are easily duped by political ideologies, the consequences of which are life altering. Being a Hungarian myself, and having lived under Communism, I was riveted to read Arthur Koestler's autobiographical essay on him joining forces with Leftist ideologues and then finding out the true nature of those "gods. We need to be very cautious about political alliances; Conservatism's questioning nature and realism is the right antidote. Nov 05, Karlo Mikhail rated it did not like it Shelves: history. Classic anti-communist black propaganda. Much of it reiterates crude diatribes from the McCarthy period and can be readily refuted.
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Silone, for instance, has been later exposed to be a government agent. Jul 23, Jon added it Shelves: reviewed. Very interesting collection of essays by 6 writers explaining how they got involved with Communism, then rejected it, in the s. Most of the pieces were written expressly for this collection, Andre Gide's was compiled from his earlier writings about Communism and his experience touring the USSR.
I especially liked Richard Wright's contribution, but the entire book is of historical interest, while its warnings on the perils of embracing ideology remain relevant today. Sep 17, Dr. Arun rated it really liked it. This relates to those who have lived in Communist ruled states and has experienced the virtues and vices. The Essayists are all impeccable in their observations. However, all of six great minds have written something independently after their contribution in this work. Oct 30, Stephen Coates rated it liked it.
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Each of these six mostly autobiographical essays was interesting in their own right each of which I enjoyed. One point that stood out to me was Richard Wright's experience of, after leaving the Communist party, the behind the scenes moves to prevent him getting work and being published. This reminds me of the tradition within many religions, especially Islam, to persecute, even kill, apostates.
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Sep 17, Todd rated it it was amazing Shelves: politics. What great personal stories from these writers, both in terms of what drew them toward Communism and how they became disenchanted with it. As we struggle to find our way forward in the world, addressing the economic and social problems facing us, their stories remain current. Our ideals tell us what we want, but reality intrudes and informs us what we can have. Feb 26, Monica rated it liked it Shelves: histories. Read this long ago. The title may make some cringe but it's nonethless true that many oppressed saw communism as a new dawn, godlike, and in the end its failure was a crushing, almost obliterating blow.
May 31, zltg rated it really liked it Shelves: history , politics. The Devil once lived in Heaven, and those who have not met him are unlikely to recognize an angel when they see one. Mar 18, Abigail rated it it was amazing. I had my doubts on reading this book, knowing it would be an American propaganda book.
But I read it anyway and it turned out to be pretty good. The first three stories were more appealing than the last three. The writers told their life's stories dealing with communism honestly. May 11, Christopher marked it as to-read Shelves: politics , history.
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Six writers and how they became disillusioned with communism. Jul 03, Ali rated it liked it Shelves: essays. Sep 24, Phyllis rated it really liked it. Great book and it's not about religion, so to speak, but it's about the religion of Communism. Dec 26, Street Inker rated it liked it. I read the Indonesian version of this book. Oct 04, William Sariego rated it really liked it. Classic from the Cold War era.
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Refused to read it during my radical days, now it makes perfect sense. I confess to only having read the Koestler piece. Jun 22, Pete rated it really liked it. The books authors go into detail about what appealed to them in Marxism and Communism and then their encounters with the actual Communist party that led to their disillusionment. The accounts are dramatically different. Koestler went to Berlin in the s and joined the Communist party in the early s. He goes into detail about how the party there was illegal, but organised. He talks about the cells, the quasi-religious adherence to slogans and Marxist dogma.
Interestingly, both the Communists and the Nazis organised into similar cells and the local activists would know their opposition organisers. Koestler went to the Soviet Union for a year during the s. After some years there he went to Spain where he worked as a war correspondent on the Republican side. There he was captured, freed and captured again and managed to get out due to the intervention of the British government and only then lost his faith in Communism.
He also got news that numerous of his friends who had gone to the Soviet Union had been purged. Koeslter's recollection also includes the fact that he and others were well aware of the purges and of the Holodomor early on. It's really quite an incredible story and Koestler writes it well. Ignazio Silone writes of being young and disillusioned and joining the Communists in Italy in the s. He went to Russia repeatedly between and with the Party and writes about how doctrinaire it was there then. Good faith disagreement was already impossible.
Richard Wright write about joining the Communist Party in Chicago in the s as an African American and experiencing just how doctrinaire and how like a cult it was there too. For good measure he also experienced rascism from members of the Party. There memorably Fischer talks of his Kronstadt moment. The Kronstadt Rebellion was when Soviet troops crushed an uprising by workers and farmers after the failure of Soviet economics in the early s.
Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nation The story of the emotions which drew such men to Communism and of the events which disillusioned them states concretely and compellingly the great issues of our time. The Saturday Review of Literature Worth reading, and rereading, for its interest both as a classic historical document and as a haunting object lesson.
Norman Podhoretz, Encounter An important contribution to our understanding of Communism in its full dimensions and awful depths. New York Herald Tribune This book is an engrossing study of why men join a Communist party and the reasons why they are eventually compelled to resign Engerman has done an admirable job of explaining the context of this work. Donald F. Busky, The Historian. David C.