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Conquest, one of the great historians of our time, shows his commanding knowledge of events throughout the world, drawing extensively on the works of notable figures and his own experiences. It’s a rather serious read, demands one’s full attention, and I would not take it up for leisurely enjoyment. Even so, the narrator does a great job making the book a pleasant experience. As an expert in Soviet history, Conquest deals in mostly with the impacts of communism. My criticism is that he, presents history as mainly an economic conflict of capitalism, communism, socialism, etc. This mistakes the superstructure for the foundations. History is shaped by a society’s theistic beliefs, which dictate its moral and ethical behavior. Considering what’s going in in the Middle East, India, Myanmar, with recent US elections, and pretty much everywhere, it’s hard to see history in terms of rubles and cents. These are difficult issues, so I can understand it’s easier to take a materialistic view and say they are solvable by trade agreements, treaties, and the dissolving of treaties. I would recommend the book for broadening one’s understanding of recent events and where we are now, but not as offering solutions to root causes of the ravages of our past century.
The scope of this book is very wide, but it is an interesting book for those with some familiarity of the topics discussed. This book is perhaps more relevant today then when it was published. For those trying to make sense of the ideologies that prevail today it's important understand the influence of Marxism had in shaping them.