The story of the rise and fall of the Communists is unparalleled in modern history. After reaching the heights of power, and, at one time, ruling over one third of mankind, Communism lies in absolute shambles, the victim of the complete bankruptcy of the theory and praxis underlying the Soviet system itself.
Adam B. Ulam's extraordinary new book recounts the saga of what led to this demise, starting with the postwar period of 1948 up until 1991, when the USSR cracked asunder and came to its last gasp. The Communists is a stunning reconstruction that includes a reconsideration of Stalin's notion of Communism as an instrument of his own power. There is also a penetrating analysis--often missed by most historians--of the cult of Tito, who, as the first heretic, played a critical role in challenging the Soviet Union and holding Stalin at bay. Even more revealing is Ulam's compelling portrayal of China in this period: its long and complex relationship with the Soviet Union; the driving force of the cold and calculating Mao, who was a central figure from the beginning of the Soviet-Chinese alliance until the great divide ; the irreversible rift between Moscow and Beijing, which had enormous implications for international Communism. The portrait of Mao drawn here will rank as one of the most important in contemporary literature.
Ulam also develops the provocative theme of how the Soviets and the Chinese secretly played off the strengths and weaknesses of each other.
The Communists further elaborates on the difficulties of coexistence, Khrushchev's attempts at reforms, the stagnation under Brezhnev, the effects of the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland, the chronic withering away of the economy, the advent of Gorbachev, the failure of perestroika and glasnost to save the Soviet Union, which led to the final and total unraveling--one of the great cataclysms of the twentieth century.
This major work by one of our most renowned Sovietologists is certain to be a classic that will, along with his other books, be read for decades to come.