The Best Books About The History Of Socialism

Andrei Znamenski Author Of Socialism as a Secular Creed: A Modern Global History
By Andrei Znamenski

The Books I Picked & Why

Heaven on Earth: The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of Socialism

By Joshua Muravchik

Heaven on Earth: The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of Socialism

Why this book?

If one wants to find a world history of the socialist phenomenon in a user-friendly format, this is your book to turn to. Muravchik is not only a good scholar, but he is also a good writer. A former member of the democratic socialist movement in the United States, he combines a deep knowledge of his subject and a lively narrative accompanied by representative anecdotes. You will not be able to put this text aside. It represents a collection of critical essays on socialist experiences from Robert Owen, Karl Marx, and Vladimir Lenin to Western European democratic socialism, African socialism in Tanzania, and kibbutzim in Israel. Besides, the reader will enjoy a comparative chapter on the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and its partial dismantling in China. For this second edition of his book, Muravchik added a special chapter that explores the current rise of socialism in Western countries with an emphasis on the USA and UK.


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Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies

By Christian Niemietz

Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies

Why this book?

This volume complements well the Muravchik book. Written in an easy user-friendly language, the text represents a set of short essays that deal with socialist construction in various countries (Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Kim Il Sung North Korea, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Castor’s Cuba, Chavez Venezuela). Besides these well-known cases of socialism, Niemietz, a libertarian scholar of a German extract, gives an excellent succinct analysis of the Eastern German communist regime from 1945 to its collapse in 1989.  The reader should also benefit from reading his comprehensive introductory chapter on the enduring appeal of socialism. Both high and home school and college instructors, who want to challenge the dominant socialism-friendly educational mainstream, may want to use Muravchik’s book and this one as textbooks.


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Socialism: A Very Short Introduction

By Michael Newman

Socialism: A Very Short Introduction

Why this book?

This short book by a UK humanities professor represents a very brief sympathetic history of socialism written from the left perspective that currently dominates our academic mainstream. In a benign manner and downplaying the dark sides of socialism, Newman narrates the history of the socialist phenomenon from the 1820s “utopian socialism” and Marxism to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution (Stalinist terror has been totally skipped), and to the current eco-socialism and socialist feminism. The best and most informative parts of the book are chapters on Cuban communism and the so-called Swedish model of socialism. I recommend this brochure as a textbook to those who are either committed to the socialist creed or reluctant to critically approach this phenomenon.


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Stalked by Socialism: An Escapee from Communism Shows How We'Re Sliding into Socialism

By Jana Kandlova

Stalked by Socialism: An Escapee from Communism Shows How We'Re Sliding into Socialism

Why this book?

This is a captivating, personalized memoir that simultaneously explores the current ascent of socialism in the United States. The author escaped Eastern European communism in 1988, during its decaying stage, and moved to the United States in hope that she would enjoy freedom of speech and individual liberty in this country. Yet, to her surprise, she had to deal with the escalating rise of the left in the United States that has been recently seeking to curtail the freedom of speech and impose a greater regulation, trying to replace equality of opportunity with the equality of outcomes. Designed as a warning for Western audiences, Kandlove’s book samples the miseries of her daily life under socialism in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and the 1980s. She also provides revealing anecdotes of her encounters with various Western “useful idiots” who peddle socialism and do not want to learn from history.


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The Socialist Phenomenon

By Igor Shafarevich

The Socialist Phenomenon

Why this book?

A Soviet dissident scientist and prominent conservative ideologist of Russian nationalism, Shafarevich (1923-2017) traces the roots of modern socialism to statist and collectivist experiments in ancient Egypt, China, and Inca civilizations. He also explores the aggressive egalitarianism of modern socialism’s predecessors among European eschatological movements in medieval and early modern Europe (e.g., Lollards in England, Taborites in Bohemia, Peasants’ War during the Protestant Reformation in Germany, and the Jesuit state in Paraguay). Among other things, the author examines in detail the early 1920s Bolshevik activities in Russia, Maoist assaults on traditional society in China, and the rise of the Western New Left in the 1960s. According to Shafarevich, each time leading to disastrous and suicidal results, socialism represents humanity’s “death wish”; the writer implies that one might slow down this enduring and recurrent dark side of human existence, but, ultimately, we will always have to deal with the socialist phenomenon in our life.


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