THE DAMAGING LEGACY OF COMMUNISM
Tirana, Albania, April 7-9, 2017
RECOMMENDED BOOKS

“Communism must be reckoned in crude mathematic terms the most murderous system ever devised by human intelligence; and yet this is an argument we have to have, generation after generation. Consider this; one third of American millennials believe that more people were murdered by George W. Bush than Joseph Stalin. This is not an argument we can take for granted.”

Daniel Hannan MEP

Daniel Hannan MEP

ACRE Secretary-General

Daniel Hannan MEP - Twitter Daniel Hannan MEP - Facebook Daniel Hannan MEP - Web

On post-communism

The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies

Legutko, R.: The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. Encounter Books 2016.

Ryszard Legutko lived and suffered under communism for decades—and he fought with the Polish anti-communist movement to abolish it. Having lived for two decades under a liberal democracy, however, he has discovered that these two political systems have a lot more in common than one might think. They both stem from the same historical roots in early modernity, and accept similar presuppositions about history, society, religion, politics, culture, and human nature. 

The Rise and Fall of Communism

Brown, A.: The Rise and Fall of Communism. Vintage 2010.

In this hugely acclaimed book Archie Brown provides an indispensable history that examines the origins of the ideology, its development in different countries, its collapse in many states following the Soviet perestroika, and its current incarnations around the globe.


Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life after Communism

Ghodsee, K.: Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life after Communism. Duke University Press 2011.

"Lost in Transition" tells of ordinary lives upended by the collapse of communism. Through ethnographic essays and short stories based on her experiences with Eastern Europe between 1989 and 2009, Kristen Ghodsee explains why it is that so many Eastern Europeans are nostalgic for the communist past.

Capital, Coercion, and Post-Communist States

Gerald, M. E.: Capital, Coercion, and Post-Communist States, Cornell University Press 2012.

“Capital, Coercion, and Postcommunist States is a history of postcommunist Poland and Russia as seen through the lens of the state's struggle to extract revenue. Gerald M. Easter is the foremost expert on these developments, and he has crafted a fascinating narrative to carry his penetrating analysis of these countries' trajectories. This fabulous book is a must-read for political scientists, historians, and sociologists-in short, for anybody interested in the state.” – S. Gehlbach, University of Wisconsin-Madison


How the East Was Won: The Impact of Multinational Companies on Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union 1989-2004

Lewis, C. P.: How the East Was Won: The Impact of Multinational Companies on Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union 1989-2004. Coptic 2008.

Despite widespread criticism of multinational companies, they have made an unparalleled contribution to the development of Eastern Europe over the last two decades. They have brought opportunities to the young, improved working conditions, saved communities from destitution, rehabilitated corrupt banking systems and laid a modern telecommunications network.

Memory and Change in Europe: Eastern Perspectives

Malgorzata, P. / Wawrzyniak, J.: Memory and Change in Europe: Eastern Perspectives. 2015.

In studies of a common European past, there is a significant lack of scholarship on the former Eastern Bloc countries. While understanding the importance of shifting the focus of European memory eastward, contributors to this volume avoid the trap of Eastern European exceptionalism, an assumption that this region's experiences are too unique to render them comparable to the rest of Europe. They offer a reflection on memory from an Eastern European historical perspective, one that can be measured against, or applied to, historical experience in other parts of Europe. In this way, the authors situate studies on memory in Eastern Europe within the broader debate on European memory.


Post-Communist Civil Society and the Soviet Legacy: Challenges of Democratisation and Reform in the Caucasus Kindle Edition

Aliyev, H.: Post-Communist Civil Society and the Soviet Legacy: Challenges of Democratisation and Reform in the Caucasus Kindle Edition. Palgrave Macmillan 2015.

This book argues that the weakness of civil society in the post-Soviet Caucasus is a result not only of post-communist political and economic problems, but also of the effects of historical legacies. These influence both formal and informal civil societies and weaken the countries' ability to facilitate democratisation.

How Capitalism Was Built: The Transformation of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia

Aslund, A.: How Capitalism Was Built: The Transformation of Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Cambridge University Press 2013.

In How Capitalism Was Built, 2nd Edition, A. Aslund asks - and answers for the twenty-one countries he investigates: • Why did communism collapse? • Why did Russia not choose gradual reforms like China did? • Wherein lies the relative success of postcommunist transformation? • How did the oligarchs arise and decline vis-à-vis authoritarian leaders? Anyone who wants to understand the often confusing postcommunist dramas and obtain an early insight into the future will find this intellectually stimulating book useful.


Nineteen Eighty-four

Orwell, G.: Nineteen Eighty-four. Penguin 2008.

Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell's nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff's attempt to find individuality.

“His final masterpiece. Enthralling and indispensible for understanding modern history.” – T. G. Ash

The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression

Paczkowski A, Margolin JL, Panné JL, Bartosek K, Laar M, Werth N, and Courtois S, Harvard University Press, 1997

Already famous throughout Europe, this international bestseller plumbs recently opened archives in the former Soviet bloc to reveal the actual, practical accomplishments of Communism around the world: terror, torture, famine, mass deportations, and massacres. Astonishing in the sheer detail it amasses, the book is the first comprehensive attempt to catalogue and analyze the crimes of Communism over seventy years.


The Gulag Archipelago Vol I-IV

Solzhenitsyn, A, Harper, 2007 

Drawing on his own experiences before, during and after his eleven years of incarceration and exile, on evidence provided by more than 200 fellow prisoners, and on Soviet archives, Solzhenitsyn reveals with torrential narrative and dramatic power the entire apparatus of Soviet repression, the state within the state that once ruled all-powerfully with its creation by Lenin in 1918. Through truly Shakespearean portraits of its victims-this man, that woman, that child-we encounter the secret police operations, the labor camps and prisons, the uprooting or extermination of whole populations, the “welcome” that awaited Russian soldiers who had been German prisoners of war. Yet we also witness astounding moral courage, the incorruptibility with which the occasional individual or a few scattered groups, all defenseless, endured brutality and degradation. And Solzhenitsyn’s genius has transmuted this grisly indictment into a literary miracle.





On Albania

Enver Hoxha: The Iron Fist of Albania

Fevziu, B. / Elsie, R.: Enver Hoxha: The Iron Fist of Albania. Tauris 2016.

“Blendi Fevziu's work is extraordinary. Written like a crime novel, based on unparalleled access to once closed Albanian archives, the book is a must read for anyone who wants to understand communist Europe and how dictatorships get set up and eventually survive. Fevziu succeeds brilliantly in capturing the horrors of Hoxha's 41 years in power and brings to life many of the voices he silenced. Not only that, given the Hoxha legacy, Fevziu helps us better understand why today's Albania's path to democracy is so difficult. This biography is a major achievement.” - Robert C. Austin, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy in Europe

Abrahams, Fred C.: Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy in Europe. New York 2015.

“In this intimate portrait of the country, [Abrahams] explains how the old regime—the last of the Eastern European communist regimes to fall—slowly crumbled and a democratic party, largely student-based, formed, faltered, and gave way to a transfigured communist party.” – Prof. Robert Legvold, Foreign Affairs


A Girl in Exile

Kadare, I.: A Girl in Exile. Translated by J. Hodgson. Harvill Secker 2016.

A Girl in Exile is a stunning, deeply affecting portrait of life and love under surveillance, infused with myth, wry humour and the chilling absurdity of a paranoid regime. 

Life Is War: Surviving Dictatorship in Communist Albania

Woodcock, S.: Life Is War: Surviving Dictatorship in Communist Albania. Hammeron 2016.

Life is War: Surviving Dictatorship in Communist Albania is a collection of oral histories that guides readers through the decades (1944-1992) in which everything was controlled by the Communist Party; what work one could do, what food was available, and even who one could marry. This is a thorough and vivid history of lived communism in Albania, charting political and ideological shifts through the experiences of those who survived. 




True Stories from Red Albania

Kote, J.: True Stories from Red Albania. Tirana 2016.

“Dr Jorgji Kote’s account in this book of life in ‘red Albania’ is an intriguing insight into another world, which nonetheless existed so nearby, so recently. He tells his stories with characteristic humour and little trace of bitterness, which nevertheless cannot disguise the hardship of those days.” – K. Holman, journalist in Belgium

Prison Nation

“Prison Nation” on Radio.cz

“Prison Nation” is a short documentary about the crimes of communism in Albania. Between 1946 and 1991, one of Europe’s most brutal totalitarian regimes killed more than 5,000 people, while another 70,000 were sentenced to years in jail. One of them was Tomor Aliko, who was sentenced to life shortly after the communists took over Albania.


BBC’s Albania timeline

BBC’s Albania timeline

“Communism must be reckoned in crude mathematic terms the most murderous system ever devised by human intelligence; and yet this is an argument we have to have, generation after generation. Consider this; one third of American millennials believe that more people were murdered by George W. Bush than Joseph Stalin. This is not an argument we can take for granted.”

Daniel Hannan MEP

Daniel Hannan MEP

ACRE Secretary-General

Daniel Hannan MEP - Twitter Daniel Hannan MEP - Facebook Daniel Hannan MEP - Web