The best 37 Communism books

Explore the rise, fall, and lasting influence of communism with this enlightening book list. From the origins of Marxism to the real-life examples of communist regimes, these titles provide a comprehensive understanding of this complex ideology.
Uncover the ideals, challenges, and controversies surrounding communism as you dive into the works of renowned scholars and firsthand accounts. Whether you're a history buff or simply curious about political systems, this collection is a must-read.

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1
Communism Books: Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang

Red Scarf Girl

Ji-Li Jiang

What's Red Scarf Girl about?

Red Scarf Girl is a memoir by Ji-Li Jiang that recounts her experiences during China's Cultural Revolution. Set in the 1960s, the book follows Ji-Li as she navigates the political turmoil and struggles to reconcile her loyalty to the Communist Party with the persecution of her family. It offers a firsthand account of a dark period in history and the resilience of the human spirit.

Who should read Red Scarf Girl?

  • Readers interested in personal stories from the Cultural Revolution in China
  • Young adults seeking inspiration from a resilient protagonist
  • Educators looking for a book to facilitate discussions on history, social justice, and resilience

2
Communism Books: Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

Midnight in Chernobyl

Adam Higginbotham

What's Midnight in Chernobyl about?

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham is a gripping account of the catastrophic nuclear disaster that took place in 1986. Through extensive research and interviews, the book delves into the events leading up to the explosion at the Chernobyl power plant, the immediate aftermath, and the long-term consequences. It offers a compelling blend of science, history, and human drama, shedding light on one of the most devastating man-made disasters in history.

Who should read Midnight in Chernobyl?

  • Readers with an interest in history, specifically the Chernobyl disaster
  • People who enjoy immersive and meticulously researched non-fiction narratives
  • Those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the human and environmental impact of nuclear accidents

3
Communism Books: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

What's A Gentleman in Moscow about?

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is a captivating novel set in 1922, Moscow. The story follows Count Alexander Rostov, who is sentenced to house arrest in the luxurious Metropol Hotel. Despite being confined to the hotel, Rostov experiences a life filled with charm, relationships, and unexpected twists, showcasing the resilience of the human spirit.

Who should read A Gentleman in Moscow?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction set in Russia
  • People who appreciate elegant writing and intricate character development
  • Those looking for a captivating and immersive story that explores themes of resilience and finding beauty in everyday life

4
Communism Books: Anthem by Ayn Rand

Anthem

Ayn Rand

What's Anthem about?

Anthem is a dystopian novel by Ayn Rand that explores the concept of individualism in a society where the word “I” has been abolished. Set in a future world where collectivism is the norm, the story follows a young man named Equality 7-2521 as he dares to defy the rules and seek freedom. It delves into themes of independence, identity, and the power of the human spirit.

Who should read Anthem?

  • Individuals seeking thought-provoking literature
  • Readers interested in exploring themes of individualism and collectivism
  • Those who enjoy dystopian fiction and philosophical exploration

5
Communism Books: Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich, Keith Gessen

Voices from Chernobyl

Svetlana Alexievich, Keith Gessen

What's Voices from Chernobyl about?

Voices from Chernobyl is a haunting oral history book by Svetlana Alexievich that gives voice to the survivors and witnesses of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Through a series of interviews, the book reveals the untold stories of those affected by the catastrophe, offering a deeply personal and harrowing account of one of the worst man-made disasters in history.

Who should read Voices from Chernobyl?

  • Individuals interested in the human impact of major disasters
  • Readers who enjoy firsthand accounts and oral history
  • Those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and its aftermath

6
Communism Books: Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin

Breaking Stalin's Nose

Eugene Yelchin

What's Breaking Stalin's Nose about?

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin is a gripping novel set in Soviet Russia. It follows the story of a young boy named Sasha as he navigates life in a society ruled by fear and oppression. When Sasha's father, a loyal Communist, is arrested, Sasha's world is turned upside down. The book delves into themes of loyalty, betrayal, and the harsh realities of life under Stalin's regime.

Who should read Breaking Stalin's Nose?

  • Readers who are interested in historical fiction set in Soviet Russia
  • Young adult readers looking for a coming-of-age story with a unique perspective
  • Those who enjoy narratives about challenging oppressive systems and finding personal freedom

What's Critique of the Gotha Program about?

Critique of the Gotha Program is a political pamphlet written by Karl Marx in 1875. In this work, Marx criticizes the draft program of the German Workers' Party, pointing out its inconsistencies and shortcomings. He argues that the program fails to address the fundamental issues of class struggle and the transition to a communist society. Marx also discusses the concept of a "dictatorship of the proletariat" and the principle of "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." The book remains a key text in Marxist literature and a source of debate on socialist theory.

Who should read Critique of the Gotha Program?

  • Intelligent readers who are curious about Marxist theory and its critiques of capitalism
  • Students and scholars of political science, economics, and social philosophy
  • Activists and thinkers interested in exploring alternative economic and social systems

8
Communism Books: Red Famine by Anne Applebaum

Red Famine

Anne Applebaum

What's Red Famine about?

Red Famine by Anne Applebaum examines the devastating Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933, known as the Holodomor. Through extensive research and firsthand accounts, the book uncovers the political decisions and policies that led to the famine, resulting in the deaths of millions. It also explores the broader implications of this man-made tragedy within the context of Soviet history.

Who should read Red Famine?

  • Readers interested in the history of the Soviet Union and Stalinist policies
  • Those who want to understand the impact of government-induced famines on a society
  • Individuals who enjoy deeply researched and compelling non-fiction narratives

9

What's The Orphan Master's Son about?

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson is a gripping novel set in North Korea. It follows the life of Pak Jun Do, a young man who grows up in an orphanage and later becomes a kidnapper for the state. Through Jun Do's journey, the book offers a rare glimpse into the secretive and oppressive regime of North Korea, exploring themes of identity, love, and the power of storytelling.

Who should read The Orphan Master's Son?

  • People interested in exploring the enigmatic and secretive world of North Korea
  • Readers who enjoy character-driven narratives with complex and morally ambiguous protagonists
  • Those looking for a thought-provoking and emotionally impactful story that challenges their perceptions

10
Communism Books: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

The Lacuna

Barbara Kingsolver

What's The Lacuna about?

The Lacuna (2009) is a historical novel by Barbara Kingsolver that delves into the life of a young man named Harrison Shepherd. Set against the backdrop of Mexico and the United States during the 1930s and 1940s, the book explores themes of identity, politics, and the power of storytelling. Through Shepherd's experiences, the novel offers a unique perspective on key historical events and figures of the time.

Who should read The Lacuna?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction with richly developed characters
  • Those interested in the complex relationship between art and politics
  • People who appreciate a thought-provoking exploration of identity, belonging, and cultural differences

11
Communism Books: Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikötter

Mao's Great Famine

Frank Dikötter

What's Mao's Great Famine about?

Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikötter is a comprehensive account of the devastating famine that occurred in China between 1958 and 1962. Through meticulous research and analysis, the book uncovers the political, economic, and social factors that led to this tragedy, ultimately challenging the official narrative of the time.


12
Communism Books: The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

What's The Gulag Archipelago about?

The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is a powerful and harrowing account of the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system. Through personal stories and meticulous research, Solzhenitsyn exposes the brutality and injustice of the Gulag, shedding light on a dark chapter of history that must not be forgotten.

Who should read The Gulag Archipelago?

  • Readers looking to understand the history and impact of the Soviet Gulag system
  • Individuals interested in exploring themes of oppression, resilience, and the human spirit
  • Those who appreciate thought-provoking and meticulously researched non-fiction

13
Communism Books: A People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes

A People's Tragedy

Orlando Figes

What's A People's Tragedy about?

A People's Tragedy (1996) by Orlando Figes offers a comprehensive examination of the Russian Revolution, covering the period from 1891 to 1924. Through in-depth research and engaging storytelling, Figes delves into the complex social, economic, and political factors that led to this historic event, shedding light on both its grand scale and its profound human impact.

Who should read A People's Tragedy?

  • Historians and scholars interested in Russian history
  • Individuals curious about the complexities of the Russian Revolution
  • Readers who enjoy in-depth explorations of social and political movements

14
Communism Books: The Great Terror by Robert Conquest

The Great Terror

Robert Conquest

What's The Great Terror about?

The Great Terror by Robert Conquest is a comprehensive account of the purges and political repression that took place in the Soviet Union during the 1930s. Drawing on archival documents and firsthand testimonies, Conquest reveals the extent of the atrocities committed under Stalin's regime and the impact it had on millions of people. This chilling and meticulously researched book sheds light on a dark chapter in history.

Who should read The Great Terror?

  • Historians and scholars interested in the history of the Soviet Union
  • Readers who want to understand the brutality and impact of Stalin's regime
  • Individuals seeking insights into the nature of totalitarianism and mass repression

15
Communism Books: The Quiet American by Graham Greene, Robert Stone

The Quiet American

Graham Greene, Robert Stone

What's The Quiet American about?

The Quiet American by Graham Greene is a gripping novel set in the political turmoil of 1950s Vietnam. Through the eyes of a jaded British journalist, it explores themes of love, idealism, and the consequences of foreign intervention. A thought-provoking and beautifully written book that delves into the complexities of human nature.

Who should read The Quiet American?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and morally complex narratives
  • Those with an interest in historical fiction set in Vietnam during the First Indochina War
  • People who appreciate character-driven stories with richly developed protagonists and antagonists

16
Communism Books: Red Plenty by Francis Spufford

Red Plenty

Francis Spufford

What's Red Plenty about?

Red Plenty by Francis Spufford is a captivating blend of history and fiction that delves into the Soviet Union's pursuit of an economic utopia in the 1950s and 1960s. Through a series of interconnected stories, Spufford explores the lives of mathematicians, economists, and ordinary citizens as they grapple with the promise and ultimate failure of a planned economy. It offers a thought-provoking look at the intersection of politics, ideology, and human ambition.

Who should read Red Plenty?

  • Readers who are interested in the history and economics of the Soviet Union
  • Those who enjoy a blend of non-fiction and fiction storytelling
  • People who want to explore the tensions and contradictions of a planned economy

17
Communism Books: Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler

Life and Fate

Vasily Grossman, Robert Chandler

What's Life and Fate about?

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman is a monumental work that delves into the lives of individuals caught up in the turmoil of World War II. Through its rich and complex narrative, the book explores themes of freedom, love, and the struggle for survival in the face of totalitarianism. It offers a profound reflection on the human condition and the choices we make in the midst of adversity.

Who should read Life and Fate?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring the human experience during World War II
  • Individuals who appreciate complex and thought-provoking literary works
  • Those who enjoy deep dives into the philosophical and existential questions of life

18
Communism Books: Mao by Jung Chang, Jon Halliday

Mao

Jung Chang, Jon Halliday

What's Mao about?

Mao by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday is a comprehensive biography that delves into the life and legacy of Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People's Republic of China. Drawing on extensive research and interviews, the book offers a revealing account of Mao's rise to power, his ruthless leadership, and the devastating consequences of his policies. It provides a critical examination of one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

Who should read Mao?

  • Fans of biographies and historical non-fiction
  • People with an interest in understanding the complexities of Mao Zedong's life and impact on China
  • Readers who enjoy in-depth and meticulously researched accounts of influential figures

19
Communism Books: Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Stalin

Simon Sebag Montefiore

What's Stalin about?

Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore is a comprehensive biography that delves into the life of one of the most formidable and controversial leaders of the 20th century. Through extensive research and access to previously unavailable documents, Montefiore provides a detailed account of Stalin's rise to power, his ruthless rule, and the impact he had on the Soviet Union and the world.

Who should read Stalin?

  • Readers with a strong interest in Soviet history and Stalin's era
  • Those who enjoy in-depth biographies of influential and controversial figures
  • Individuals who seek to understand the complexities of power, politics, and tyranny

20
Communism Books: Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon

Arthur Koestler

What's Darkness at Noon about?

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler is a thought-provoking novel set during the Stalinist purges in Soviet Russia. It delves into the psychological and moral complexities of political ideology and betrayal. The story follows Rubashov, a high-ranking party member who is arrested and interrogated, forcing him to confront his own beliefs and the harsh realities of the regime he once served.

Who should read Darkness at Noon?

  • Readers interested in political and historical fiction
  • Those curious about the psychology of individuals under oppressive regimes
  • People who enjoy thought-provoking and intellectually challenging literature

What's The Case Against Socialism about?

The Case Against Socialism by Rand Paul provides a comprehensive critique of socialist ideology and its potential impact on society. Drawing on historical examples and economic analysis, Paul argues that socialism undermines individual freedom, stifles innovation, and leads to economic stagnation. He also offers alternative solutions to address the issues that proponents of socialism seek to tackle.

Who should read The Case Against Socialism?

  • Economically curious individuals who want to understand the flaws of socialist systems
  • Political enthusiasts seeking a well-researched critique of socialist ideology
  • Readers who are open to challenging their beliefs and exploring alternative perspectives

22
Communism Books: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer

Viet Thanh Nguyen

What's The Sympathizer about?

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen is a gripping novel that delves into the complexities of identity, loyalty, and betrayal. Set during the Vietnam War, it follows a communist spy who infiltrates the South Vietnamese army and eventually escapes to the United States. Through his unique perspective, the book offers a thought-provoking exploration of political and personal struggles.

Who should read The Sympathizer?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and complex narratives
  • Those interested in exploring the duality of identity and the immigrant experience
  • Individuals who appreciate literary fiction with a focus on historical and political themes

23
Communism Books: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

What's Between Shades of Gray about?

Between Shades of Gray is a historical fiction novel by Ruta Sepetys that tells the story of a young Lithuanian girl named Lina, who is deported to a Siberian labor camp during World War II. Through Lina's poignant and harrowing journey, the book sheds light on the lesser-known atrocities committed by the Soviet regime. It explores themes of resilience, family bonds, and the power of art in the face of adversity.

Who should read Between Shades of Gray?

  • Readers who are interested in historical fiction, particularly World War II era
  • People who enjoy stories of resilience and survival
  • Those who are looking to gain a deeper understanding of lesser-known aspects of history

24
Communism Books: Witness by Whittaker Chambers

Witness

Whittaker Chambers

What's Witness about?

Witness is a gripping memoir by Whittaker Chambers that chronicles his journey from being a communist agent to becoming a key witness in the trial of Alger Hiss. Through vivid storytelling, Chambers exposes the inner workings of the Soviet underground network in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. This thought-provoking book delves into the ideological battle between communism and democracy, making it a must-read for anyone interested in Cold War history.

Who should read Witness?

  • Readers who are interested in historical events and espionage
  • Individuals who enjoy thought-provoking personal narratives
  • Those who want to gain insights into the ideological struggles of the 20th century

25
Communism Books: Wild Swans by Jung Chang

Wild Swans

Jung Chang

What's Wild Swans about?

Wild Swans by Jung Chang is a powerful memoir that traces three generations of women in China, from the time of the last emperor to the Cultural Revolution. Through the personal stories of the author, her mother, and her grandmother, the book offers a vivid portrayal of the country's tumultuous history and the resilience of the women who lived through it.

Who should read Wild Swans?

  • Readers who are interested in Chinese history and culture
  • People who enjoy memoirs and personal stories
  • Those looking to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of political and social changes on individuals' lives

26

What's The Commissar Vanishes about?

The Commissar Vanishes by David King delves into the art of photo manipulation during Joseph Stalin's rule. Through a collection of before-and-after photographs, the book exposes how certain individuals were erased from history to serve the political agenda of the Soviet regime. It sheds light on the extent to which visual evidence was altered to distort reality and control public perception.

Who should read The Commissar Vanishes?

  • Readers interested in examining the power of visual propaganda
  • History enthusiasts curious about the impact of Stalin’s regime on media
  • Individuals studying censorship and revisionism in the context of Soviet Russia

27
Communism Books: Lenin's Tomb by David Remnick

Lenin's Tomb

David Remnick

What's Lenin's Tomb about?

Lenin's Tomb by David Remnick is a gripping account of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Through extensive research and interviews, Remnick provides a detailed and insightful analysis of the political, social, and economic factors that led to this historic event. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the final years of the Soviet regime and the profound impact it had on the world.

Who should read Lenin's Tomb?

  • History enthusiasts who want to understand the collapse of the Soviet Union
  • Readers interested in political and social changes in Russia during the 20th century
  • Individuals curious about the life and legacy of Vladimir Lenin

28
Communism Books: Reform or Revolution by Rosa Luxemburg

Reform or Revolution

Rosa Luxemburg

What's Reform or Revolution about?

Reform or Revolution by Rosa Luxemburg challenges the idea that gradual reforms within the capitalist system can lead to socialism. Luxemburg argues that true social change can only come through revolutionary action, and she critiques the reformist approach as ultimately reinforcing the existing power structures. Published in 1900, this influential work continues to provoke important discussions about the strategies for achieving a more just society.

Who should read Reform or Revolution?

  • Individuals seeking a deeper understanding of revolutionary socialist thought
  • Activists and organizers looking to challenge the status quo and push for systemic change
  • Anyone interested in the intersection of politics, economics, and social justice

29
Communism Books: Postwar by Tony Judt

Postwar

Tony Judt

What's Postwar about?

Postwar by Tony Judt is a sweeping history of Europe after World War II, examining the continent's tumultuous journey from the ruins of the war to the complexities of the present day. With meticulous research and insightful analysis, Judt provides a compelling account of the political, social, and economic developments that shaped postwar Europe.

Who should read Postwar?

  • Readers interested in understanding the complexities of post-World War II Europe
  • Individuals who enjoy in-depth historical analysis and narratives
  • Those seeking insights into the political, social, and economic developments of the 20th century

30
Communism Books: Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov, John Glad

Kolyma Tales

Varlam Shalamov, John Glad

What's Kolyma Tales about?

Kolyma Tales is a collection of short stories by Varlam Shalamov, based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag labor camps. The book offers a harrowing and unflinching portrayal of life in the camps, depicting the extreme hardships and dehumanization faced by the prisoners. Shalamov's powerful writing sheds light on a dark chapter of history and serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Who should read Kolyma Tales?

  • Readers with an interest in understanding the dark side of Soviet history
  • Those who appreciate thought-provoking and emotionally intense literature
  • Individuals who want to explore the human experience in extreme conditions

31
Communism Books: Stasiland by Anna Funder

Stasiland

Anna Funder

What's Stasiland about?

Stasiland by Anna Funder is a compelling non-fiction book that delves into the history of East Germany and the oppressive regime of the Stasi secret police. Through interviews with former Stasi officers and ordinary citizens, Funder uncovers the stories of those who resisted and those who were surveilled, offering a unique and haunting insight into life behind the Iron Curtain.

Who should read Stasiland?

  • Readers who are interested in the history of East Germany and the Stasi
  • Those who enjoy non-fiction books that offer a personal and human perspective on historical events
  • People who appreciate well-researched and thought-provoking narratives

32
Communism Books: The Conquest of Bread by Peter Kropotkin

The Conquest of Bread

Peter Kropotkin

What's The Conquest of Bread about?

The Conquest of Bread (1892) by Peter Kropotkin outlines a vision for a future society based on common ownership and cooperation. Arguing against the prevailing system of capitalism, Kropotkin presents his ideas for a decentralized, self-sufficient economy where everyone has access to the necessities of life. This influential work continues to inspire discussions on alternative economic and political systems.

Who should read The Conquest of Bread?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring alternative economic and social systems
  • Individuals looking to understand the roots of inequality and poverty
  • Those who are curious about anarchist thought and its practical applications

33
Communism Books: Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

Homage to Catalonia

George Orwell

What's Homage to Catalonia about?

Homage to Catalonia is George Orwell's personal account of his experiences during the Spanish Civil War. Published in 1938, the book offers a firsthand perspective on the political and social situation in Spain at the time, as well as Orwell's reflections on the broader themes of war, propaganda, and the fight against fascism.

Who should read Homage to Catalonia?

  • Readers with an interest in history, particularly the Spanish Civil War and its impact
  • Individuals who appreciate first-hand accounts and personal narratives
  • Those who are curious about George Orwell's experiences and political views

34
Communism Books: Iron Curtain by Anne Applebaum

Iron Curtain

Anne Applebaum

What's Iron Curtain about?

Iron Curtain (2012) by Anne Applebaum examines the history of the Soviet Union's influence on Eastern Europe after World War II. Drawing on extensive research and interviews, the book explores the political, social, and cultural impact of the Iron Curtain, shedding light on the lives of those who lived under communist rule.

Who should read Iron Curtain?

  • History enthusiasts curious about the impact of communism on Eastern Europe
  • Readers interested in understanding the complexities of post-World War II politics
  • Individuals who want to gain insights into the human experience under totalitarian regimes

35
Communism Books: The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le Carré, John Carr

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold

John le Carré, John Carr

What's The Spy Who Came In from the Cold about?

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is a gripping espionage novel by John le Carré. Set during the Cold War, it tells the story of Alec Leamas, a British intelligence officer who embarks on a dangerous mission to bring down an East German intelligence operative. Filled with intrigue, betrayal, and moral ambiguity, the book offers a thought-provoking exploration of the world of espionage.

Who should read The Spy Who Came In from the Cold?

  • Readers who enjoy espionage and spy thrillers
  • Those interested in Cold War-era politics and historical fiction
  • Individuals who appreciate complex and morally ambiguous characters

36
Communism Books: The Tragedy of Liberation by Frank Dikötter

The Tragedy of Liberation

Frank Dikötter

What's The Tragedy of Liberation about?

The Tragedy of Liberation by Frank Dikötter offers a gripping account of the tumultuous period in Chinese history following the end of World War II. It delves into the brutal realities of the Chinese Communist Party's rise to power and the subsequent social and political upheaval. Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, Dikötter sheds light on the untold stories of oppression, violence, and human suffering during this transformative era.

Who should read The Tragedy of Liberation?

  • Readers who are interested in understanding the dark side of China's communist revolution
  • Individuals who enjoy thought-provoking historical accounts
  • Those who want to gain insights into the complexities of power, ideology, and human suffering

37
Communism Books: The Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine

The Paper Cowboy

Kristin Levine

What's The Paper Cowboy about?

The Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine is a gripping novel set in the 1950s that follows the story of Tommy, a young boy who starts a chain reaction of events when he falsely accuses a neighbor of being a communist. As the town is consumed by fear and suspicion, Tommy must confront the consequences of his actions and find the courage to make things right.

Who should read The Paper Cowboy?

  • Readers who enjoy historical fiction set in the 1950s
  • Those interested in exploring themes of family, friendship, and social justice
  • People who appreciate stories with complex and flawed characters

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