Communism was one of the most powerful political and intellectual movements of the modern world; at the height of its influence over a third of the world's population lived under Communist rule. And yet very few predicted either its bewildering rise or sudden decline, while even close observers were mystified by its frequent convulsions and turbulent politics.
In The Red Flag, David Priestland provides an original account of the Communist movement that fully explores its global impact. He not only discusses the ideas and motivations of its principal thinkers and leaders - from Marx to Mao, from Stalin to Che Guevara, but also asks why Communism inspired its rank and file – from the militants of 1920s Russia and the guerrilla fighters of China to the Marxist students of Ethiopia and the urban terrorists of Europe in the 1970s. At same the time The Red Flag explores the experience of living under Communism for its millions of subjects.
In his lively and absorbing narrative Priestland stresses how varied a phenomenon Communism was. He traces its emergence in the aftermath of the French Revolution, and shows how those early ideas evolved and mutated as they moved across time and place, from the barricades of Europe in 1848 to the villages of Nepal today.
At a time when the post-Cold War order is itself in crisis and we enter a new phase of global political and economic uncertainty, The Red Flag is essential reading.