Totalitarian Communism Understood
A long and complex story which moves across a cast of characters before circling back to the opening pair. Sometimes difficult to follow the unfamiliar Russian names and their relationships, sometimes the political philosophising gets a bit weighty, but flashes of absolutely lucid literary lucidity make it all worth while.
Some of the writing is truly poetic, evoking place and emotion with great power (praise too for the translator), and the historical details of life across Russia, in the Communist Party at various levels, in Spain and in Paris, plus the memories of earlier (revolutionary) deeds, are fascinating.
All in all you gain an understanding of how totalitarian communism worked and why it was effective - totally dependent on party members putting their loyalty to Party and Socialism above everything else. It is in essence the same as religious fanaticism, and like fanatical religion it thrives only in certain people in particular circumstances.
Very well worth reading - as this century unfolds will those who understand this story be first up against the wall as a new populism for our times comes to the fore. Would any of us dilettante eco-activists be capable of the total commitment to the cause that the communists of old espoused?