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Post 08 Oct 2013, 17:04
I decided to start a book club thread similar to the What are you listening to at this moment? thread but for books. This could be a good way for us to share any interesting books we've read, without having to go into the depth deserving of an independent post. S-E Book Reports.

Preferably the book should be either fully available online free or at least have a Google Books Preview.

All the below books are previewable on Google Books.

Marx and the French Revolution
By François Furet

Furet was an ex-PCF member who pioneered the reactionary revisionist account of the French Revolution as opposed to the classic social model. For all its supposed 'newness', Furet's account is really no different than the work of the 1800s Legitimists who claimed that the Illuminati had de-Catholiziced France as preparation for Revolution. Furet claims a bunch of Enlightenment Ideologues attempted to impose Jacobin Terror from above. His book is more about the PCF than Robespierre.

Now the interesting thing about this book is he claims to be more Marxist than the PCF. That the social model of FR that Souboul and the PCF follow is really just Neo-Jacobin idealism. And that Marx himself did not see Jacobinism as bourgeois revolution but the assertion of dictatorial state power.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS): Shaping the Reforms, Academia ...
By Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner

CASS is the main Chinese ideological Think Tank, so its interesting to see how they shaped Dengist theory in the 1980s.

Soviet Policies in the Middle East: From World War Two to Gorbachev
I was mainly interested in Soviet-Egypt relations and the 1973 crisis.

Contributions to Social Ontology
edited by Clive Lawson, John Spiro Latsis, Nuno Martins

Lukacs last major work relied on the ontology of Nikoli Hartmann. It is largely forgotten in favor of his early idealistic work. This volume has social theorists applying his ontology.

Contemporary East European Marxism, Volume 1
Very interesting collection of articles by Soviet and E.European Marxist theorists. I was most interested in Oizerman's paper on Hegel, but lots of other great stuff applying Marxism to all areas of theory.

China Watcher: Confessions of a Peking Tom
By Richard Baum ... an&f=false

Has a funny story about inviting Bob Avakian to class and him ranting on.
Post 10 Oct 2013, 01:10
Introduction to Dialectical Logic
By Henri Wald

Interesting study of Marxist logic by a Romanian Communist.

Surprising that that he is less of a historicist-relativist than Bertrand Russel, who he accuses of subjective-idealism for saying Ancient thinkers can only be understood by the standards of their time and can't be judged by modern logic.

Includes a history of logic in the Greeks, Indians and Chinese.


Post 10 Oct 2013, 07:08
Great thread! There's one on Mir, but for general reading.

I'm re-reading I. I. Rubin's Essays on Marx's Theory of Value.
I think it's mandatory intermediate-level reading.
Post 11 Oct 2013, 17:18


An interesting way of presenting patriarchal oppression through the prism of modernist literature.
Post 14 Oct 2013, 16:14
Sorites Paradox, the philosophical discussion of Engels' 2nd Law of Dialectics, The Law of Transformation of Quantity into Quality. When does a bald man become bald?
Post 14 Oct 2013, 21:57
trotsky - writings 1929-1939
Post 15 Oct 2013, 07:25
Goldberk wrote:


An interesting way of presenting patriarchal oppression through the prism of modernist literature.

Looks interesting. Might check the blog...

This reminded me of a book I found once in a library, with the biographies of the winners of a prize given by Cuba for women who have made a change in the world. Great reading. I went back and the book was gone.
Post 16 Oct 2013, 16:02
Re-reading Ryavec's Implementation of Soviet Economic Reforms: Political, Organizational and Social Processes.

I recommend anything from Praeger.
Post 20 Oct 2013, 22:52
Red Moon Rising: Sputnik and the Hidden Rivals That Ignited the Space Age, as far as politics goes it has a basically mainstream anti-Soviet perspective but it was still an interesting survey of the 1950s in general. Devoted pages to the pro-Stalin uprising in Georgia in 1956. For me the biggest takehome message was just how imbalanced the early Cold War was. The USA vastly outpaced the USSR in bombers and nukes and mercilessly bullied them with constant overflights deep into USSR airspace, even U2 planes over Moscow while Khrushchev was meeting with the US ambassador. Fascist General Lemay openly flying his bombers into the USSR with announced plans to kill 30 million Soviets. Sputnik was a real tuning point of the early Cold War, a technological feat the US did not think the underestimated Reds were capable of. The USSR actually took the lead in developing ICBMs which evened out the Cold War. The USSR was forced to rely on its own scientists, while the USA leaned on ex-Nazi war criminals of the V-2 Rockets.
Post 20 Oct 2013, 23:17
Marx - On the difference between the Democritic and Epicurean natural philosophies

Marx was just as awesome as a 23 year old Hegelian.
Post 21 Oct 2013, 05:49
Mabool wrote:
Marx - On the difference between the Democritic and Epicurean natural philosophies

Marx was just as awesome as a 23 year old Hegelian.

yes I plan on reading Lucretius' On the Nature of Things, which is our main source of Epicurean philosophy and the greatest work of Ancient Materialism. Marx devoted one of his notebooks to Lucretius whom he called the 'poetical master of the world'.
Post 27 Oct 2013, 17:08
I'm reading The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon. It's for a political science class, but I think it gives some great insights into colonialism. I'm also reading through American Psycho, the most entertaining yuppie satire ever.
Post 27 Oct 2013, 21:45
I've just started "The Revolution and Counter-revolution" by Engels (even though my book says it's by Marx).

Seems like I'll get more historical background than theory proper. It's a breeze to read too.

EDIT: Oh, yeah. A very interesting foreword by Tussy, briefly going over the hardships her family had to endure.
Post 27 Nov 2013, 00:20
Molotov Remembers
Tons of interesting anecdotes from a reliable source

When the Nazis offered to exchange Stalin's son for General Paulus he replied "they are ALL my sons"

Once Stalin and Molotov were walking in Moscow snow, and a beggar not recognizing them, asked for some change, Stalin gave him a $10 ruble note, and the bum started following them heckling them as god damned bourgeois.

The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome ... cient_Rome
Another Marxist rehabilitation of a historical villain. Even the great French Revolutionaries fell for the line about Cato and Cicero as great Republican heroes against tyranny. Parenti presents Caesar as the champion of the Populares against the aristocratic Patrician Senate Optimates.

A Marxist understanding of the State as class weapon has opened the way to rehabilitating several historical figures previously denounced simplistically as mere tyrants.

Ivan the Terrible by Stalin
Machiavelli by Gramsci
Qin Legalists by Mao
Post 27 Nov 2013, 01:02
I've read parts of it, though all of them were only about the WW2 period. Full of quite lame excuses for the shameful Soviet behavior in the late 30s and the criminal neglect of the country's defense before Barbarossa.
Anyway i find those anecdotes somewhat hard to believe. Someone actually not recognizing Stalin on the street? Beggars left to roam around central Moscow ( begging was a crime in the USSR from what i know )? Besides i think 10$ was big money back then, even in the US. I don't know what the currency exchange rate was but it must have been a good part of what an average Soviet worker made in a month, and no one gives that much money to beggars anyway.
And about von Paulus, didn't Stalin say something along the lines of "I won't be exchanging a fieldmarshal for a private"?

Ivan the Terrible by Stalin

I know Stalin took efforts to glorify that czar who was an extraordinarily brutal and violent tyrant, but did he actually wrote an article or something on him?
Post 27 Nov 2013, 01:21
Besides i think 10$ was big money back then, even in the US. I don't know what the currency exchange rate was but it must have been a good part of what an average Soviet worker made in a month, and no one gives that much money to beggars anyway.

That was the point of the anecdote. That only a bourgeois would have that much money to spare, so rather than being grateful, the beggar started insulting and cursing his benefactor.

At the very least it shows that Soviet beggars were much more ideologically-conscious than those in the West, who would kiss the feet at a $100 handout.

Here is the passage:
I recall a blizzard, snow was blowing. I was walking with Stalin along Manege Square. We did not yet have bodyguards. Stalin wore a fur-lined coat, felt boots, and a cap with ear flaps. No one recognized us. Suddenly a beggar beseeched us: "Give me alms, good people!" Stalin reached into his pocket, pulled out a ten-ruble note, gave it to him, and walked on. But the beggar followed us and cried out, "Damned bourgeoisie!
Post 31 Dec 2013, 12:01
I’m in the middle of two autobiographies. One by James Callaghan, Time and chance and the other by Jack Jones entitled Union Man. The latter book I got from the International Brigades Memorial Trust.
“Why doesn’t the government do something” Is a constant complaint and the former book tries to show what happens when someone does! I do admire Callaghan’s’ stamina. It can’t have been easy trying to solve the problems the UK faced in the 60’s and particularly the late 70’s. Looking back you’d have to be mad to take on the role of PM between the years 1976 – 1979.
Post 14 Jan 2014, 03:18
The Vladimirov Diaries. Yenan, China: 1942-1945

Notes by a Soviet Comintern agent in Mao's WW2 base. Extremely negative assessment of Mao, published in the 1970s under the shadow of the Sino-Soviet split. ... -1942-1945
Post 14 Jan 2014, 20:17
Grundrisse - I'm about two thirds of the way through. It's rather overrated to be honest. Also reading Marx's Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right.
Post 03 Feb 2014, 23:10
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