The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression

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Overview

Already famous throughout Europe, this international bestseller plumbs recently opened archives in the former Soviet bloc to reveal the actual, practical accomplishments of Communism around the world: terror, torture, famine, mass deportations, and massacres. Astonishing in the sheer detail it amasses, the book is the first comprehensive attempt to catalogue and analyze the crimes of Communism over seventy years.

"Revolutions, like trees, must be judged by their fruit," Ignazio Silone wrote, and this is the standard the authors apply to the Communist experience—in the China of "the Great Helmsman," Kim Il Sung's Korea, Vietnam under "Uncle Ho" and Cuba under Castro, Ethiopia under Mengistu, Angola under Neto, and Afghanistan under Najibullah. The authors, all distinguished scholars based in Europe, document Communist crimes against humanity, but also crimes against national and universal culture, from Stalin's destruction of hundreds of churches in Moscow to Ceausescu's leveling of the historic heart of Bucharest to the widescale devastation visited on Chinese culture by Mao's Red Guards.

As the death toll mounts—as many as 25 million in the former Soviet Union, 65 million in China, 1.7 million in Cambodia, and on and on—the authors systematically show how and why, wherever the millenarian ideology of Communism was established, it quickly led to crime, terror, and repression. An extraordinary accounting, this book amply documents the unparalleled position and significance of Communism in the hierarchy of violence that is the history of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times

An 800-page compendium of the crimes of Communist regimes worldwide, recorded and analyzed in ghastly detail by a team of scholars. The facts and figures, some of them well known, others newly confirmed in hitherto inaccessible archives, are irrefutable. The myth of the well-intentioned founders—the good czar Lenin betrayed by his evil heirs—has been laid to rest for good. No one will any longer be able to claim ignorance or uncertainty about the criminal nature of Communism, and those who had begun to forget will be forced to remember anew.
— Tony Judt

Wall Street Journal

When The Black Book of Communism appeared in Europe in 1997 detailing communism's crimes, it created a furor. Scrupulously documented and soberly written by several historians, it is a masterful work. It is, in fact, a reckoning. With this translation by Jonathan Murphy and Mark Kramer, English-language readers may now see for themselves what all the commotion was about.
— Jacob Heilbrunn

New Republic

The Black Book of Communism, which is finally appearing in English, is an extraordinary and almost unspeakably chilling book. It is a major study that deepens our understanding of communism and poses a philosophical and political challenge that cannot be ignored. The book's central argument, copiously documented and repeated in upwards of a dozen different essays, is that the history of communism should be read above all as the history of an all-out assault on society by a series of conspiratorial cliques led by cruel dictators (Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim II Sung, Pol Pot, and dozens of imitators) who were murderously drunk on their own ideology and power...Courtois and his collaborators have performed a signal service by gathering in one volume a global history of communism's crimes from the Soviet Union to China, from the satellite countries of Eastern-Europe to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and North Korea, and to a lesser degree in Latin America and Africa...The Black Book is enormously impressive and utterly convincing.

— Michael Scammell

New York Times Book Review

To the extent that the book has a literary style, it is that of the recording angel; this is the body count of a colossal, wholly failed social, economic, political and psychological experiment. It is a criminal indictment, and it rightly reads like one.

— Alan Ryan

Washington Times

Most sensible adults are aware of communism's human toll in the Soviet Union and elsewhere—the forced starvations in the Ukraine, the Great Purge of the 1930s, the Gulag, the insanity of China's Great Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot's murder of one in every seven Cambodians, Fidel Castro's firing squads and prisons. All these horrors are now brought together in what the French scholar Martin Mali, in his foreword, calls a 'balance sheet of our current knowledge of communism's human costs, archivally based where possible and elsewhere drawing on the best available secondary evidence'...The book is all the more damning because each of the contributing scholars is either a former communist or close fellow traveler...That The Black Book infuriated the French left is a sure mark of its intrinsic worth.

— Joseph C. Goulden

National Review

The Black Book is a groundbreaking effort by a group of French scholars to document the human costs of Communism in the 20th century. Its publication caused a sensation in France when it was first released in 1997, but Americans were not able to see for themselves what the furor was all about until October 1999, when Harvard University Press finally released an English translation. It was worth the wait. Taking advantage of many newly available archives in former Communist states, the authors (many of them former Communists themselves) have meticulously recorded the crimes, terror and repression inflicted by Communist regimes across the world. It is a powerful work.
— Mark A. Thiessen

Washington Post Book World

The authors of The Black Book of Communism are part of a welcome change in the moral-philosophical landscape in Paris, and one hopes elsewhere, as a result of which liberal and left-of-center intellectuals, scholars and politicians judge the crimes of communist regimes with the same severity they've applied to those of Nazism and fascism.

— Jeffrey Herf

Foreign Affairs
Arguing with the passion of former believers, [the contributors] charge that communism was a criminal system. They all make the case well.
Insight

Now The Black Book of Communism is available in English, thanks to a stellar edition from Harvard University Press that appeared late last year, with an excellent introduction by Martin Malia, professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley.

— Stephen Goode

Evening Standard

This black book has been a best seller across Europe. It details all the misery inflicted by Communism throughout the world: 25 million dead in the Soviet Union, 65 million in China, 1.7 million in Cambodia...Not a pleasant book, a necessary one.

— David Sexton

The Tribune

A sober and balanced piece of work. [The Black Book of Communism] is particularly good on the origins of the Soviet police state under Lenin and on Stalin's Great Terror. It should be read by anyone who still has illusions that the Bolshevik revolution was a good thing—and anyone who believes that something worthwhile was lost when the Berliners destroyed the Wall 10 years ago.

— Paul Anderson

Weekly Standard

A serious, scholarly history of Communist crimes in the Soviet Union, Eastern and Western Europe, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Africa, and Latin America...The Black Book does indeed surpass many of its predecessors in conveying the grand scale of the Communist tragedy, thanks to its authors' extensive use of the newly opened archives of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

— Anne Applebaum

New Times

A generally even-toned and informative book, and one that will serve as a healthy dose of medication for those still afflicted by a wish to treat the Bolshevik revolution as a mistake, however monumental, or something that 'had to happen'...The Black Book's guiding purpose is to cut through the dense tissue of apologetics that has been deployed in the communist interest, both those devised in the thick of repression and those added after the collapse.

— Ben Webb

Weekend Post

The Black Book of Communism] consists of scholarly yet readable (and superbly translated) essays, some based on recently opened Soviet archives, and covers the communist revolutions in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, including Cuba...The Black Book [is] a most important volume of contemporary history produced by a group of French Sovietologists...On finishing this magnificent volume, it is impossible not to see that in three-quarters of a century Soviet communism had left nothing behind except death and destruction.
— Arnold Beichman

Scottsdale Tribune

The heart of the Black Book is a compilation and description—in mesmerizing objective prose— of the slaughters visited upon populations around the world by communist dictators in the 20th century...The Black Book is an elegantly simple and valuable record of a time many would like to forget—but will have to deal with.
— John Omicinski

The Sentine

I can't think of any book that would be more important for Americans to read. If you are going to read only one book this year, make it The Black Book of Communism. This is an 800-page history of the terror, repression and killings of communism stretching from the Bolshevik Revolution to the present. Written by scholars who are ex-communists or former fellow travelers, the book establishes beyond doubt that communism is the greatest crime against humanity in the 20th century.
— Charley Reese

salon.com

In the end, the Black Book's body counts—necessary as they are—are less important than the soul-destroying connections between Marxist idealism and the violence committed in its name.

— Lawrence Osborne

Times Literary Supplement

The publishing sensation in France this winter (1999) has been an austere academic tome, Le Livre Noir du Communisme, detailing Communism's crimes from Russia in 1917 to Afghanistan in 1989...[The Black Book of Communism] gives a balance sheet of our present knowledge of Communism's human costs, archivally based where possible, and otherwise drawing on the best secondary works, and with due allowance for the difficulties of quantification. Yet austere though this inventory is, its cumulative impact is overwhelming. At the same time, the book advances a number of important analytical points.
— Martin Malia

New York Times - Tony Judt
An 800-page compendium of the crimes of Communist regimes worldwide, recorded and analyzed in ghastly detail by a team of scholars. The facts and figures, some of them well known, others newly confirmed in hitherto inaccessible archives, are irrefutable. The myth of the well-intentioned founders--the good czar Lenin betrayed by his evil heirs--has been laid to rest for good. No one will any longer be able to claim ignorance or uncertainty about the criminal nature of Communism, and those who had begun to forget will be forced to remember anew.
Wall Street Journal - Jacob Heilbrunn
When The Black Book of Communism appeared in Europe in 1997 detailing communism's crimes, it created a furor. Scrupulously documented and soberly written by several historians, it is a masterful work. It is, in fact, a reckoning. With this translation by Jonathan Murphy and Mark Kramer, English-language readers may now see for themselves what all the commotion was about.
New Republic - Michael Scammell
The Black Book of Communism, which is finally appearing in English, is an extraordinary and almost unspeakably chilling book. It is a major study that deepens our understanding of communism and poses a philosophical and political challenge that cannot be ignored. The book's central argument, copiously documented and repeated in upwards of a dozen different essays, is that the history of communism should be read above all as the history of an all-out assault on society by a series of conspiratorial cliques led by cruel dictators (Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim II Sung, Pol Pot, and dozens of imitators) who were murderously drunk on their own ideology and power...Courtois and his collaborators have performed a signal service by gathering in one volume a global history of communism's crimes from the Soviet Union to China, from the satellite countries of Eastern-Europe to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and North Korea, and to a lesser degree in Latin America and Africa...The Black Book is enormously impressive and utterly convincing.
New York Times Book Review - Alan Ryan
To the extent that the book has a literary style, it is that of the recording angel; this is the body count of a colossal, wholly failed social, economic, political and psychological experiment. It is a criminal indictment, and it rightly reads like one.
Washington Times - Joseph C. Goulden
Most sensible adults are aware of communism's human toll in the Soviet Union and elsewhere--the forced starvations in the Ukraine, the Great Purge of the 1930s, the Gulag, the insanity of China's Great Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot's murder of one in every seven Cambodians, Fidel Castro's firing squads and prisons. All these horrors are now brought together in what the French scholar Martin Mali, in his foreword, calls a 'balance sheet of our current knowledge of communism's human costs, archivally based where possible and elsewhere drawing on the best available secondary evidence'...The book is all the more damning because each of the contributing scholars is either a former communist or close fellow traveler...That The Black Book infuriated the French left is a sure mark of its intrinsic worth.
National Review - Mark A. Thiessen
The Black Book is a groundbreaking effort by a group of French scholars to document the human costs of Communism in the 20th century. Its publication caused a sensation in France when it was first released in 1997, but Americans were not able to see for themselves what the furor was all about until October 1999, when Harvard University Press finally released an English translation. It was worth the wait. Taking advantage of many newly available archives in former Communist states, the authors (many of them former Communists themselves) have meticulously recorded the crimes, terror and repression inflicted by Communist regimes across the world. It is a powerful work.
Washington Post Book World - Jeffrey Herf
The authors of The Black Book of Communism are part of a welcome change in the moral-philosophical landscape in Paris, and one hopes elsewhere, as a result of which liberal and left-of-center intellectuals, scholars and politicians judge the crimes of communist regimes with the same severity they've applied to those of Nazism and fascism.
Insight - Stephen Goode
Now The Black Book of Communism is available in English, thanks to a stellar edition from Harvard University Press that appeared late last year, with an excellent introduction by Martin Malia, professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley.
Evening Standard - David Sexton
This black book has been a best seller across Europe. It details all the misery inflicted by Communism throughout the world: 25 million dead in the Soviet Union, 65 million in China, 1.7 million in Cambodia...Not a pleasant book, a necessary one.
The Tribune - Paul Anderson
A sober and balanced piece of work. [The Black Book of Communism] is particularly good on the origins of the Soviet police state under Lenin and on Stalin's Great Terror. It should be read by anyone who still has illusions that the Bolshevik revolution was a good thing--and anyone who believes that something worthwhile was lost when the Berliners destroyed the Wall 10 years ago.
Weekly Standard - Anne Applebaum
A serious, scholarly history of Communist crimes in the Soviet Union, Eastern and Western Europe, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Africa, and Latin America...The Black Book does indeed surpass many of its predecessors in conveying the grand scale of the Communist tragedy, thanks to its authors' extensive use of the newly opened archives of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
New Times - Ben Webb
A generally even-toned and informative book, and one that will serve as a healthy dose of medication for those still afflicted by a wish to treat the Bolshevik revolution as a mistake, however monumental, or something that 'had to happen'...The Black Book's guiding purpose is to cut through the dense tissue of apologetics that has been deployed in the communist interest, both those devised in the thick of repression and those added after the collapse.
Weekend Post - Arnold Beichman
The Black Book of Communism] consists of scholarly yet readable (and superbly translated) essays, some based on recently opened Soviet archives, and covers the communist revolutions in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, including Cuba...The Black Book [is] a most important volume of contemporary history produced by a group of French Sovietologists...On finishing this magnificent volume, it is impossible not to see that in three-quarters of a century Soviet communism had left nothing behind except death and destruction.
Scottsdale Tribune - John Omicinski
The heart of the Black Book is a compilation and description--in mesmerizing objective prose-- of the slaughters visited upon populations around the world by communist dictators in the 20th century...The Black Book is an elegantly simple and valuable record of a time many would like to forget--but will have to deal with.
The Sentine - Charley Reese
I can't think of any book that would be more important for Americans to read. If you are going to read only one book this year, make it The Black Book of Communism. This is an 800-page history of the terror, repression and killings of communism stretching from the Bolshevik Revolution to the present. Written by scholars who are ex-communists or former fellow travelers, the book establishes beyond doubt that communism is the greatest crime against humanity in the 20th century.
salon.com - Lawrence Osborne
In the end, the Black Book's body counts--necessary as they are--are less important than the soul-destroying connections between Marxist idealism and the violence committed in its name.
Times Literary Supplement - Martin Malia
The publishing sensation in France this winter (1999) has been an austere academic tome, Le Livre Noir du Communisme, detailing Communism's crimes from Russia in 1917 to Afghanistan in 1989...[The Black Book of Communism] gives a balance sheet of our present knowledge of Communism's human costs, archivally based where possible, and otherwise drawing on the best secondary works, and with due allowance for the difficulties of quantification. Yet austere though this inventory is, its cumulative impact is overwhelming. At the same time, the book advances a number of important analytical points.
Jeffrey Herf
[T]he authors of The Black Book of Communism are part of a welcome change in the moral-political landscape in Paris, and one hopes elsewhere, as a result of which liberal and left-of-center intellectuals, scholars and politicians judge the crimes of communist regimes with the same severity they've applied to those of Nazism and fascism.
Washington Post Book World
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In France, this damning reckoning of communism's worldwide legacy was a bestseller that sparked passionate arguments among intellectuals of the Left. Essentially a body count of communism's victims in the 20th century, the book draws heavily from recently opened Soviet archives. The verdict: communism was responsible for between 85 million and 100 million deaths in the century. In France, both sales and controversy were fueled, as Martin Malia notes in the foreword, by editor Courtois's specific comparison of communism's "class genocide" with Nazism's "race genocide." Courtois, the director of research at the prestigious Centre Research National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and editor of the journal Communisme, along with the other distinguished French and European contributors, delivers a fact-based, mostly Russia-centered wallop that will be hard to refute: town burnings, mass deportations, property seizures, family separations, mass murders, planned famines--all chillingly documented from conception to implementation. The book is divided into five sections. The first and largest takes readers from the "Paradoxes of the October Revolution" through "Apogee and Crisis in the Gulag System" to "The Exit from Stalinism." Seeing the U.S.S.R. as "the cradle of all modern Communism," the book's other four sections document the horrors of the Iron Curtain countries, Soviet-backed agitation in Asia and the Americas, and the Third World's often violent embrace of the system. A conclusion--"Why?"--by Courtois, points to a bureaucratic, "purely abstract vision of death, massacre and human catastrophe" rooted in Lenin's compulsion to effect ideals by any means necessary. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Courtois, director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), leads the efforts of major scholars associated with the CNRS, who drew on recently opened Soviet archives to track the atrocities of communism worldwide over the last century. Concluding that communism's death toll stands at 85 to 100 million, they wonder forcefully why such "class genocide" is excused more easily than the Nazis' "race genocide." This book burned a hole in the French Left when it was published--and also hit the best sellers lists. Not easy reading, but a seminal document. (LJ 11/1/99) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Michael Scammell
The Black Book of Communism, which is finally appearing in English, is an extraordinary and almost unspeakably chilling book. It is major study that deepens our understanding of communism and poses a philosophical and political challenge that cannot be ignored.

The New Republic

Kirkus Reviews
A unique attempt by French historians—as important in its way as the works of Solzhenitsyn—to chronicle the crimes of communism wherever it has attained power in the world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674076082
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 912
  • Sales rank: 486,528
  • Product dimensions: 6.68 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 1.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Stéphane Courtois is Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, and editor of the journal Communisme.

Nicolas Werth is a researcher at the Institute for Contemporary History.

Jean-Louis Panné collaborated on the Dictionnaire biographique du mouvement ouvrier français.

Andrzej Paczkowski is Deputy Director and a professor at the Institute for Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Karel Bartošek is acting head of research at CNRS and the editor of the journal La nouvelle alternative.

Jean-Louis Margolin is a lecturer in history and coordinator of lectures at the University of Provence and a researcher at the Research Institute on Southeast Asia of CNRS.

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Table of Contents

  • Foreword: The Uses of Atrocity Martin Malia
  • Introduction: The Crimes of Communism Stéphane Courtois


I. A State against Its People: Violence, Repression, and Terror in the Soviet Union Nicolas Werth
  1. Paradoxes and Misunderstandings Surrounding the October Revolution
  2. The Iron Fist of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat
  3. The Red Terror
  4. The Dirty War
  5. From Tambov to the Great Famine
  6. From the Truce to the Great Turning Point
  7. Forced Collectivization and Dekulakization
  8. The Great Famine
  9. Socially Foreign Elements and the Cycles of Repression
  10. The Great Terror (1936 -1938)
  11. The Empire of the Camps
  12. The Other Side of Victory
  13. Apogee and Crisis in the Gulag System
  14. The Last Conspiracy
  15. The Exit from Stalinism

  16. Conclusion
    II. Word Revolution, Civil War, and Terror Stéphane Courtois, Jean-Louis Panné, and Rémi Kauffer
  17. The Comintern in Action Stéphane Courtois and Jean-Louis Panné
  18. The Shadow of the NKVD in Spain Stéphane Courtois and Jean-Louis Panné
  19. Communism and Terrorism Rémi Kauffer

  20. III. The Other Europe: Victim of Communism Andrzej Paczkowski and Karel Bartoek
  21. Poland, the "Enemy Nation" Andrzej Paczkowski
  22. Central and Southeastern Europe Karel Bartoek

  23. IV. Communism in Asia: Between Reeducation and Massacre Jean-Louis Margolin and Pierre Rigoulot
    Introduction
  24. China: A Long March into Night Jean-Louis Margolin
  25. Crimes, Terror, and Secrecy in North Korea Pierre Rigoulot
  26. Vietnam and Laos: The Impasse of War Communism Jean-Louis Margolin
  27. Cambodia: The Country of Disconcerting Crimes Jean-Louis Margolin

  28. Conclusion
    Select Bibliography for Asia
    V. The Third World Pascal Fontaine, Yves Santamaria, and Sylvain Boulouque
  29. Communism in Latin America Pascal Fontaine
  30. Afrocommunism: Ethiopia, Angola, and Mozambique Yves Santamaria
  31. Communism in Afghanistan Sylvain Boulouque

  32. Conclusion: Why? Stéphane Courtois
  • Notes
  • Index
  • About the Authors

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2004

    Well researched but unreadable

    A tour-de-force which is in the end, sadly, unreadable. The book is stuffed full of irrefutable facts (obtained from the archives of the Communists themselves) concerning the massacre, slavery, and oppression Communists, as a matter of principle, subject the people to. The book, written by a committee of scholars, reads with all the human warmth of your new blender¿s instruction manual. It is more a listing of aggregate numbers arrested, tortured, slaughtered, imprisoned in slave labor camps, etc than a book per se. For a much better written (and therefore much more powerful) indictment of Communism, Anna Applebaum¿s Gulag is the ticket. This is more a reference book than a history book, to be taken off your shelf when you wish to know, for example, how many people the Communists slaughtered in Ukraine from 1930 to 1936. But as for a straight through reading, this is not the book.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2003

    Excellent Book! Easy Read!

    This book is just further proof that the Communists were the first to commit a Holocaust against ALL PEOPLE. It's funny to hear the tortuous rationalizations of those still being duped by a bankrupt system. I think it was Stalin who likened them as 'useful idiots'. It seems there's no shortage of them still to this day.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 1999

    An Unbelievable Book

    How can the previous poster so cavalierly cast aside the contents of this book? It boggles the mind that he will not give communism the wholehearted denunciation that it deserves- a denunciation that should be one hundren million times more passionate than the vitriol with which people describe nazism. Capitalism does not kill people. It is political leaders playing games while the citizens of their nations starve that are responsible. When will the left (and people like Noam Chomsky and the previous poster) realize that, as apologists for such horror, they are culpable in the misery that communism wrought on mankind. Hitler pales in comparison. This book should be required reading in all colleges and universities, but, sadly, it won't be.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2007

    A reviewer

    Nothing could be truer of this phrase than the origins of communism. When Marx and Engels lived the misery of the industrial working class was at its peak - ruthless exploitation by countless factory owners with starvation wages, intimidation, child labor, dangerous and unhealthy workplaces, exploitation of women workers, etc. They felt a humanist impulse to give working people the dignity and respect they were so clearly lacking at the time. Their ideas of a better world with the social justice of a national commune were to haunt the 20th century with unprecedented waves of mass murder, terror, and repression more brutal and complete than the world had ever known. From reading the book, it's shown most communist leaders are nothing more than cynical and opportunistic politicians exploiting the hopes of the common people (and they were able to do this because no one else offered politically naive workers a golden paradise on earth). But behind all the propaganda and flag-waving, each man (e.g. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, et al) only sought to carve out his own absolute empire, ruled not by any idea of social justice but by a bloody and merciless pursuit of personal power. The result is always a destitute, dispirited, desperately poor (and significantly smaller) society. Communism became THE one true religion of the politically conscious working man. And like most religions, it cannot brook the existence of competing ideologies. Hence, communist leaders quickly labelled any power threat to be 'anti-soviet', 'anti-bolshevik', 'counter-revolutionary', 'kulak', 'syndicalist', etc., which, therefore, according to Lenin's satanic logic meant they were not humans and could be (physically) eliminated, i.e. slaughtered in their millions. And so it was, that communist regimes murdered and starved/worked to death well over 100 million people (ahem, the vast majority of them peasants and workers). This encyclopaedic book follows the publishing of an earlier 'Black Book of Fascism' (written by others). It's five sections contain frightening portraits of communism in the Soviet Union, Spain, Eastern Europe, East Asia (China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia), and the Third World (Cuba, Peru, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Angola, and Mozambique). It is the collaborative work of a group of French and Eastern European authors. The writing style flows well and is easy to read. And it is well-documented with plentiful endnotes and a source list for the those readers who remain in doubt. The book gives special attention to early Bolshevik Russia under Lenin, the demonic innovator of communist political culture. Lenin initiated all the social and political institutions of every following communist regime - denunciations, 're-education camps', party discipline (aka personal dictatorship), the Comintern, personal slavery to the state, legalized mass murder, death squads, the recruitment of the most sadistic thugs into the security services, the militarized regimentation of society, political show trials, etc. While most people are probably aware of Stalin's and Pol Pot's atrocities, they are usually unaware of all the heinous tortures and unbelievable crimes perpetrated by other leaders like Lenin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Castro, Che Guevara (this man was a freelance executioner for Castro). Anyone (outside the political elite) that's actually lived in a country ruled by these men only seeks one thing - a way out of the nightmare. I especially recommend this book to left-leaning journalists who seem to have an inexplicable fondness for communism. Communism is definitely NOT cool!!! Let me tell these people that the instant they ever became residents in a communist state their illusions (and freedom of expression) would be very quickly and completely obliterated. Don't believe me? Go ahead and move to North Korea and find out for yourself. Communist leaders only use journalists, e.g. Edgar Snow

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2004

    Communism - the bloodiest murder machine of the 20th century

    This book should be in every school library across the country. People must know that Communism, a totalitarian system of government no better than the fascist variety, is largely responsible for making the 20th century the bloodiest in human history. Wherever the followers of Marx were able to grab power, there was repression, terror, torture, mass murder and, in many cases, class-based genocide. I cannot stress how badly this needs to be read, because I've heard far too many 'useful idiots' (Hell, just look at some of the 1-star 'reviews.' Books such as this one really bring the idiots out of the woodwork!) say things such as 'I don't really view communism as a bad thing.' (Whoppi Goldberg) and 'when Communist U.S.S.R. was a superpower, the world was better off.' (Janeane Garofalo). I have a feeling that if you walked down the street and asked various people about the Soviet Gulag or Stalin's forced famine in Ukraine, you'd most likely get blank looks, because they have forgotten. This book was written to remind them. Some, mostly radical Leftists who want you to forget about the bloody history of their favorite ideology, have said that The Black Book is 'biased' because it doesn't mention the atrocities of 'anti-Communists' such as Pinochet, Suharto, Rios Montt, Somoza and Marcos. True, but this is a history of Communist crimes, the starvation and wholesale slaughter of *SCORES OF MILLIONS* of people by Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Pol Pot, Mengistu, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-Il, etc, which make the crimes of the aforementioned anti-Communists pale in comparison. How many books on Nazi mass murder mention Communist atrocities during WWII (the bloody massacres at Katyn, Bleiburg, Nemmersdorf, Vinnitsa, the mass rape of German women by the Red Army, the deportation of ethnic minorities in the USSR, the murderous post-war expulsion of Germans from Eastern Europe)? Not many. Does that mean these books on Nazi genocide are 'biased' and therefore not credible for failing to mention the misdeeds committed by the other side? I don't believe so. And so what if an 'anti-Communist' or a 'right-winger' writes about the crimes of Communism? Don't anti-Fascists and Jews write about the evils of Nazism? While you're at Barnes&Noble.com, look up a few books on the 'crimes' committed by the Pinochet regime in Chile (the 3,000 'disappeared' Communists and sympathizers we are *always* hearing about. The Left would have us believe it was the crime of the century. But their hero Stalin had that many people executed in just three days during the height of Great Terror). You'll notice that nearly all of them were written by Marxists and Socialists who are pro-Allende. Perhaps we should discount them altogether? There is also some controversy over the numbers The Black Book claims to have been killed by Communism. Some say the introduction places the number too high (100 million, which is accepted by The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation: www.victimsofcommunism.org). Even some contributors to the book, former Communists who are obviously not ready to completely damn the poisoned ideology of Marxism, have denounced Courtois for inflating the numbers and said they would have settled for a total of 85 million. I have to admit that I also have a problem with one estimate. The introduction places those killed by the Soviet regime from 1917-1991 at only 20 million. Many historians estimate that Stalin ALONE killed 20 million people (Robert Conquest, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Daniel Chirot, Adam Hochschild, Tina Rosenberg, etc). Alexander Yakovlev, author of the excellent book on Soviet tyranny and mass murder entitled 'A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia,' places the Soviet death toll at 30-35 million (in my opinion the most reliable estimate). Others, such as 'atrocitologist' R.J. Rummel and Gulag survivor Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, place the Soviet death toll at a whopping 60 million! Therefore I believe it is safe to say that Communism is ind

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2002

    Awesome Book!

    This is a must read. We know communism was the most terrible political philosophy and form of government ever, and now you can read about all of it right in this book. It's no wonder that so many Left-Wing communist sympathizers showed up here to write a review on a book they probably didn't even bother to read. They're probably just taking orders from their communist leaders over in Europe, Cuba and China. Seriously, that's what the Hollywood Ten were doing. It all runs from the top. And no, there have not been famines and masacres because of capitalism; that's a contradiction in terms. Truly capitalist countries would never do such a thing, or capitalism would no longer exist. Capitalism forbids famines and masacres, communism requires it. Now sure, not everyone in a capitalistic country is a home owning, successful person, but that is not due to the government's laws and regulations; it is because they cannot steal from others that which they do not create; they do not aquire the unearned. Can you see the difference between that and slavery, communist reviewers? It's called individual rights, the right to one's life, and one's own property. Communism and Fascism are both Leftist ideologies, falling under the title, statism. You try to say that Communism is on the Left, but Fascism is on the Right, so that people will not be allowed to think they have the choice of individual liberty. Your game is up, communists.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2002

    Insightful and spooky

    When I read this book, I was suprised at the scope of the chaos wrought by the Communist revolutionaries throughout the world. I am not right-wing but I am also not a socialist/communist. These systems assume that people are willing to be treated like worker-ants. The problem is, human beings are driven by the desire to have more power. Starvation and brutality is the only way to subdue a human's ambition. It is the only way to enforce a collective economy. One of my college professors once said that Russian Communism failed because it wasn't given a chance to thrive in a world Communist market. What? The fact is, academic Socialists have become hard-headed idealists who hold on to absurd models of reality and make ridiculous comparisons to the atrocities commited by early America as if the oppression and abuse of the Native-Americans was anything close to the horrible madness that occured in Stalinist Russia. The only similarity is the fact that men with power, back then and today, tend to become indifferent to the suffering of others. This is true in any system. In America, we have a rigorous means of trying to keep this from happening but there are still many imbalances, especially when it comes to the African American. But that doesn't mean we should burn down the churches and schools, set up re-education camps, purge the universities and kill all the farmers. There must be a better way for the Communist dream to surivive. If the scholars who still support it can't figure out a way, then maybe it's time to come up with a new theory, one that isn't 150 years old. I mean really, how long can this nonsense stay in vogue with the intellectual left?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2001

    Holocaust Revisionism in Reverse

    Every canard reiterated by the right since 1917 seems to have been unearthed and inserted in these pages as 'evidence.' If only there were a Black Book of Anti-Communism... By nicely positioning themselves between two totalitarian regimes - i.e. Nazism and Communism - the editors claim neutrality when, in fact, they are de facto allied to the former. The Axis power bloc originated in 1938 as the Anti-Comintern Pact. All the fascist atrocities of WWII were done in the name of anti-Communism (and could anything attributed to Mao be worse than the Japanese medical experiments in Manchuria?) Capitalism has produced its own share of famines and massacres. Stalin's handling of the Chechens was no different than Pres. Jackson's dealings with the Cherokees. The Famine of '33 in the Ukraine was no more devastating than Ireland's in 1848, also a combination of crop failure and political economy. Such facts ill serve the politically motivated triumphalism of this agglomeration of unverifiable gossip and illogical statistics. One final note: the graphic if blurred photo allegedly depicting the rectal impalement of a Polish officer by Red troops in the Russian civil war shows, on closer inspection, these soldiers to be wearing the uniform of the anti-Bolshevik White Army. Those whose minds are already made up will surely swallow this book's many other funny facts.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2006

    This book is TERRIBLE!

    This book is filled with statistics that make no sence at all. The people don't even know what communism is! Communism was not established in the USSR and has never been established. What happened was Socialism and it was much much better than what I live in now... Communism is when everybody is equal and there is no money AT ALL. People work as much as they want and take as much as they want from the store and don't pay anything at all! This book is complete propoganda to hide people from the truth! DO NOT BUY IT! IT'S A WASTE OF TIME!!!

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2004

    Lies, damn lies and anti-communist 'statistics'

    This huge study is valueless, because its statistics and conclusions are derived solely from the authors' fevered imaginations. They prefer prejudice to evidence, blind anti-communist 'faith' to reason. The recently opened Russian archives show that the true figure of Soviet citizens who died in the 1930s is about 300,000 deaths. Most writers on the subject, including the authors of this tome, have relied not on the archives, but on Robert Conquest's estimates. Richard Evans, Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, has explained how Conquest reached his figures: 'Robert Conquest's The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror Famine (New York, 1986) argues that the `dekulakization' of the early 1930s led to the deaths of 6,500,000 people. But this estimate is arrived at by extremely dubious methods, ranging from reliance on hearsay evidence through double counting to the consistent employment of the highest possible figures in estimates made by other historians.' For example, the American historian Charles Maier stated that Stalin was responsible for more deaths than Hitler. But Evans observed that Maier could only reach this conclusion by accepting 'Conquest's implausible and inflated estimates without question, while omitting deaths caused by Nazi aggression in the East (which also, apart from military and exterminatory action, led to famines and deportations). The number of deaths caused by Nazism's eastward drive may itself have been as many as 20 million.' (Richard Evans, In Hitler's shadow, Tauris, 1989, page 170.) In fact, to reach his judgement of comparative responsibility, Maier simply omitted all the 50 million people killed in the world war that Hitler started. It's also worth remembering that it was the Red Army who defeated 70% of Hitler's armies. It was the Red Army who played the largest part in stopping Hitler, the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2001

    A must read.

    This book should be a must read for all who still think communism works. It should be taught in schools just like the Nazi and Holocaust atrocities are taught. It goes into great and undisputed account on how communism works, how it's propaganda machine swallows those who fail to look beyond the shallow of its smoke screen and how it manages to exterminate masses by the millions so they can stay in power. Some people think the authors should have gone into the atrocities committed by capitalism as well: there are plenty of books that go into that, more than plenty; the left wing is always willing and able to write about capitalism's evils. It's about time someone had the courage to write about communism being evil. It's too bad that most Americans won't ever know about this book, never mind read it. Barnes and Noble has sold a miserable 15,000 copies, which is just a shame. Communism is still regarded here and in other parts of the world as a great system that hasn't been tried by the 'right' people. Communism doesn't work, period. In order for it to work, those who have tried it have to rely on fear, mass murdering, fanine, abolishing freedom of religion, speech and press and (very important) arms confiscation, in order to stablish it. Once it's stablished, it has resulted in desperate mass migration from those countries. This book does a great service to communism's millions of victims, of whom seldom anything is said. I read with interest the previous reviewer's opinion, which rates the book one star and talks about people who, having their minds made up, will swallow this book whole: I doubt this person even took the time to read 'The Black Book of Communism'; talk about someone who sounds like they had their minds already made up: he should look himself in the mirror.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2001

    no apologetics but also kind of overdoing it

    The question is no longer what happened as this has been well covered. Or denouncing someone elses beliefs as evil or wrong. Mankind continually finds new lows to sink to and the excuses to rationalize them. Communism is an idea. It didn't kill or instruct people to kill. Its been used as the justification and the scapegoat for all imaginable events. The responsiblity is not of the idea but the people pushing it. This book is good in that it quantifies damage wrought. However, one book does not explain all. It is recommendable to read in depth on each country to see that the bloodletting did not merely start with 'communism', nor did it end with liberation. I question the rationale of generalizing and not addressing details to accurately conceptualize the past and present. For example, the Sandinistas were given more attention than Sendero Luminoso, an absurdity. It would be nice to see every fraudulent belief of superiority exposed, unfortunately there will be more, and some are closer to home than you may think. Do not end your search for the truth with this book. There is more to the world than self-congratulatory rhetoric and pointing fingers. I recommend you read this book but in comparison to your other studies and with an open yet critical mind.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2000

    L'Internationale Socialiste

    As expected, the English translation found our collectivist academia well prepared and combat ready---they had years to plan their defense since the original French publication and the subsequent ruckus in Germany. What¿s to add? One realizes with relief that America is still a socialist backwater---despite decades of effort. Compared to the European Left¿s refined and concentrated attacks on Courtois, our comrades¿ attempts are rather crude. In addition, the ¿unsophisticated¿ American reader cares as much about the finer scholarly distinctions between Marxism-Leninism, National Socialism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, Maoism and Democratic Socialism as he does about scholarly dissertations on the differences between the Medellín and Cali kartels, or Cripps and Bloods. Now, I know I blew it by including National Socialism in the lineup. Serious campus Marxists will refuse to discuss it any further while Holocaust Deniers will add their voice to the Socialist Scholars and Euro-American Academic Nomads listed above. We¿ll probably learn that there was an orderly employment policy in the Third Reich and that Treblinka was a welfare facility for elderly homeless Jews. Oh well, Stéphane---you knew. It¿s gonna be a chore.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2000

    A good reminder

    No, it was not capitalism that killed hundreds of millions of people - it was communism - the Marx/Engel/Lenin/Stalin/Castro variety. It's sad that some people STILL think that socialism can still work - it can't. Concentrations of economic power lead to concentrations of political power, and have to be enforced by mass executions. Attempting to implement Marx will ALWAYS lead to Mao and Stalin. Finally, this book is a timely reminder for those who think Cuba is just another country to which we should send children...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 1999

    communism was capitalism

    this book is excellent for any one intrerested in the massisive killings of 'communists' ,but it fails to recognize that it was State-capitalism, not communism, as it has never been established, Stalin and Mao were members of a ruling class that forced the working class to produce wealth for their profit,and actualy (owned) ie controlled the means of production, it should be called the black book of capitalism.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 1, 2010

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    Posted January 31, 2010

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    Posted March 12, 2011

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    Posted July 25, 2009

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    Posted March 21, 2009

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