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Publisher's Summary

Robert Conquest has been called by Paul Johnson "our greatest living modern historian". As a new century begins, Conquest offers an illuminating examination of our past failures and a guide to where we should go next. Graced with one of the most acute gifts for political prescience since Orwell, Conquest assigns responsibility for our century’s cataclysms not to impersonal economic or social forces but to the distorted ideologies of revolutionary Marxism and National Socialism. The final, sobering chapters of Reflections on a Ravaged Century concern themselves with some coming storms, notably that of the European Union, which Conquest believes is an economic, cultural, and geographical misconception divisive of the West and doomed to failure. Winner of the Ingersoll Prize; winner of the Richard M. Weaver Prize; a New York Times Notable Book.

©2000 Robert Conquest (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Illuminates the past with a mighty searchlight and clears away mountains of nonsense." (Gabriel Schoenfeld, Wall Street Journal)

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  • M. Burlingame
  • 24-11-2017

A great historian and an economic study

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.

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  • Cindy
  • 06-10-2016

Former Marxists make the best counterrevolutionaries.

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-04-2018

I'm a little shocked.

For someone who is claimed to be the foremost expert on totalitarianism, he sure does favor quite a bit of policy which leads directly to totalitarianism. From my studies of the Austrian and Chicago schools of economics, protectionism and interventionism appear to be the most surefire way to move a society down the road to tyranny, and both schools of thought appear to be accepted to some degree as necessary elements of a properly functioning society. You need not look much further than the economic history the good old US of A for irrefutable proof that these two dictatorial elements of our politico-economic system are the very reason which our government has been able to consolidate so much power in such a short span of time.

I'll leave you, review reader, with a quote from the late Ludwig Von Mises from his book Planned Chaos.

"But what shall we think of the statesman who interferes by compulsion in order to raise the price of cotton above the level it would reach on the free market? What the interventionist aims at is the substitution of police pressure for the choice of the consumers. All this talk: the state should do this or that, ultimately means: the police should force consumers to behave otherwise than they would behave spontaneously. In such proposals as: let us raise farm prices, let us raise wage rates, let us lower profits, let us curtail the salaries of executives, the us ultimately refers to the police. Yet the authors of these projects protest that they are planning for freedom and industrial democracy."

Sure Mr. Conquest is dead on about political freedoms, but when broken down to it's most basic components, economic freedom and political freedom become synonymous. It is truly a shame that the author seems to not be aware of this.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful