Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home


A History of World Communism

Robert Service

ISBN 9780674046993

Publication date: 09/01/2010

Robert Service

Almost two decades after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the USSR, leading historian examines the history of communism throughout the world. Comrades! moves from Marx and Lenin to Mao and Castro and beyond to trace communism from its beginnings to the present day.
Offering vivid portraits of the protagonists and decisive events in communist history, Service looks not only at the high politics of communist regimes but also at the social conditions that led millions to support communism in so many countries. After outlining communism’s origins with Marx and Engels and its first success with Lenin and the Russian Revolution in 1917, Service examines the Soviet bloc, long-lasting regimes like Yugoslavia and Cuba, the Chinese revolution, the spread of communism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and the international links among the hundreds of parties. He covers communism’s organization and ideology as well as its general appeal. He looks at abortive communist revolutions and at the ineffectual parties in the United States and elsewhere.
Service offers a human view of the story as well as a global analysis. His uncomfortable conclusion—and an important message for the twenty-first century—is that although communism in its original form is now dying or dead, the poverty and injustice that enabled its rise are still dangerously alive. Unsettling and compellingly written, Comrades! is the most comprehensive study of one of the most important movements of the modern world.


  • In this incisive study, Service surveys the varieties of communist ideologies (from Marx to Marcuse) and regimes (the Soviet Union getting the lion's share of attention) and finds a coherent pattern, which he forthrightly labels totalitarianism… In his fluent narrative style, Service covers a lot of ground… Though bound to be controversial, his is an engaging and useful introduction to a world-shaking movement.

    —Publishers Weekly


  • Robert Service is a Fellow of the British Academy and Emeritus Professor of Russian History at the University of Oxford.

Book Details

  • 592 pages
  • 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

From this author