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Getting Read on Reds

Bronze busts of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Karl Marx lie forgotten in a Moscow factory yard in 1997. (Viktor Korotayev / Reuters)

Kevin’s post reminds me that Jim McAdam’s book is now out in paperback. It is magisterial, to use an overworked — but apt — word. It is one of the best books about Communism ever written, surely.

We are talking about Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party, by A. James McAdams, a professor of international affairs at Notre Dame. I reviewed the book for Academic Questions, here. I did a podcast with Professor McAdams, here. The title of that particular podcast: “The Communistologist.”

Robert Costa, a Notre Dame alum, told me I would enjoy McAdams greatly. How right he was.

Let me say that the professor is not only against something — Communism (a very good thing to be against) — he is also for something: liberal democracy (a very good thing to be for). And he warns against the enemies of liberal democracy, on all sides. He does so at the beginning of his book and also at the end of his book. The question must be on his mind.

At the end, he writes that “the fate of the communist party has proved to have little to do with the vitality of democracy in the West.” He goes on to say that “democratic institutions are only as strong as the will and determination of citizens to defend the principles on which they are based.”

A great book, Vanguard of the Revolution. It is the fruit of a lifetime of learning, analyzing, and reflecting.

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