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"Illuminates the past with a mighty searchlight and clears away mountains of nonsense."?Gabriel Schoenfeld, Wall Street JournalRobert 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 centurys 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. "Provides many glowing embers of reasoned and wise argument."?Richard Bernstein, The New York Times "A book that ought to be required reading for everyone about to enter college, and by every member of Congress."?Frank Wilson, Philadelphia Inquirer How can humankind avoid another century like the 20th? Blind devotion to obscene ideologies--Communism, Nazism--made the final hundred years of the millennium the bloodiest in human history. As Robert Conquest, author of Reflections on a Ravaged Century, notes, "Over this century the human race has survived experiences that, to put it mildly, should have been instructive. Scores of millions have been slaughtered, and it cannot be said that the avoidance of the even worse catastrophe of nuclear war was foreordained." Might it happen again? As Conquest is the author of The Great Terror, a devastating account of Stalin's crimes (and widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most important and influential works of history), any reflections he may have are worth noting. He's clearly worried, quoting, for example, the astonishing statement by Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm in 1994 that the construction of a Communist utopia can justify the murder of 20 million people.
Reflections on a Ravaged Century is primarily focused on the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, but he remains consistently forward-looking. "The power of fanaticism and of misunderstanding is by no means extinct," warns Conquest. The 20th century will be a prelude to even greater evils unless intellectuals engage in "a careful consideration of what needs to be learned, and unlearned." This book, both wise and accessible, is a good start. --John J. Miller