After talking with young neurosurgeons and residents around the world, they often ask "How do I know what I read is the truth?" I answered that question in a recent editorial.(1)
If the errors committed in the building of the edifice of Western civilization are compared with Plato’s ideal Republic and the perfect State, protected by intelligent but disinterested Guardians and ruled by equally disinterested and totally just Philosopher-kings, then Western civilization loses hands down.(1) But as Aristotle pointed out in his Nicomachean Ethics and Politics, man is subject to errors and thus such ideal utopias created by real men are unworkable and nonexistent.(2) Despite over two millennia of history, no such state has ever been created, and the half-baked facsimiles
Sun Shuyan, author of The Long March — The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth, was born in the 1960s, reared and schooled in communist China, as well as at Oxford, England, where she won a scholarship. Sun Shuyun is now a documentary filmmaker who "for the last decade divided her time between London and Beijing." This short biographical vignette of the author is essential because it parallels her "divided," and seemingly ambivalent, views on Mao and his legacy — viz-a-viz, the People's Republic of China (PRC).
The author of The Long March: The Untold Story, Harrison E. Salisbury (1908-1993), was an American journalist and an eloquent writer, but he had a romantic, softspot for young, "idealistic" communist revolutionaries. This infatuation persisted even though these revolutionists ultimately showed their true colors when they attained supreme power, discarded their sense of justice, imposed communism and totalitarianism, and used terror to
Preliminary Note: The article that follows is a review of Mao — The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. However, I have chosen to include this Preliminary Note before the formal review for reasons that will soon become apparent to the reader. This authoritative biography and history comes in a hefty tome illustrated with many rare photographs as well as detailed Maps of specific areas discussed in the text, which actually ends on page 631.
Just as I was beginning to warm up to Vladimir Putin and the new emerging "democracy" in the Russian Federation (which like a phoenix rose out of the ashes of the communist Soviet Union), the Russian President and his minions in the Ukraine invade the Crimean peninsula and threaten to foment a second cold war! Who is Putin trying to imitate?
Stalin's Secret Agents — The Subversion of Roosevelt's Government was written by two experienced authors and recognized authorities on the Cold War, M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein. Evans is a veteran journalist and former broadcaster, as well as the author of Blacklisted by History (2009), a biography of Senator Joseph McCarthy, and other momentous books. Romerstein was the former head of the Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation at the U.S. Information Agency and a congressional staffer of the House Intelligence Committee.
Case Closed — Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner is the definitive book on the JFK assassination. Case Closed is duly named as an authoritative and definitive treatise on the subject. The book is well investigated, well written, and thoroughly convincing because of the meticulous research and persuasive, logical narrative of the accomplished author Gerald Posner, a former Wall Street lawyer.
In the noted biography, Flawed Patriot (2006) by former CIA agent and author Bayard Stockton, CIA legend Bill Harvey, was introduced to President John F. Kennedy as "America's James Bond."(1) Harvey was indeed a charismatic legend in the CIA, but two other, almost equally unknown American heroes, could also vie for the title. One of them is Feliz Rodríguez Mendigutía, the indomitable subject of the book, Shadow Warrior, who, among his many other accomplishments, helped track and capture Che Guevara in the jungles of Bolivia in 1967.(2)
In his book, After Fidel — The Inside Story of Castro's Regime and Cuba's Next Leader, author Brian Latell, a National Intelligence Officer (1990-1994) and the top analyst for Cuba and Latin America for all the U.S intelligence agencies, describes in persuasive detail the personal relationship between Fidel and Raúl Castro. At the time this book was written, Raúl Castro was the anointed successor to the Maximum Leader.
The disintegration of the USSR is inextricably entwined and intimately related to the life and times, failures and accomplishments, paradoxes and contradictions of the courageous Russian who is the subject of this book — a man with tenacious clarity of purpose and the steely determination to carry on through and accomplish his goal at any price.
The Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage, Spies, and Secret Operations by Richard C. S. Trahair was published by Greenwood Press, (Westport, Connecticut) in 2004. It is 473 pages. It consists of nearly 300 A to Z entries of both spies and secret operations as the main text in 350 pages. There are the usual introductions, as well as a useful Chronology (1917-2003), Glossary, and Index, contained in pages 351 to 473.
Recently I read the book Tiger Trap (2012) by espionage writer David Wise. It is a scary but at the same time an astounding and critically needed book, as Americans know very little about the espionage activities of China in the United States.
Stalin — Breaker of Nations by Robert Conquest (1991) covers the life of Joseph Stalin, from his childhood in Gori to his death at his Nearer dacha (Kuntsevo) near Moscow on March 5, 1953. This book is 346 pages, including bibliographical notes and index. The book is easy to read, well-organized, and ideal for the beginning student of Soviet history and Stalinism.
KGB — The Secret Work of the Soviet Secret Agents by John Barron (Reader's Digest Press, 1974) is a classic KGB espionage saga set during the Cold War!
This is a seminal book and monumental work on the history, the (then) current methods, organization, goals, of Soviet espionage — i.e., KGB foreign intelligence with its First Chief Directorate — and internal security operations — i.e., the Second Chief Directorate.(1)
Passport to Assassination: The Never-Before-Told Story of Lee Harvey Oswald by the KGB Colonel Who Knew Him by Oleg Nechiporenko is a disappointing book for an intriguing subject!
In the book, Castro's Secrets — The CIA and Cuba's Intelligence Machine (2012), author Brian Latell, a professor, scholar, and retired CIA officer who had been active in foreign intelligence for 35 years, relies extensively on information provided by half a dozen Cuban defectors and several retired CIA officers.
Young Stalin by Simon Montefiore is a well-researched, well-written, absorbing, and authoritative biography of Joseph Stalin's early years. Following the usual formalities, the book begins with a tantalizing "Prologue," the audacious robbery and bloody bombing at the festive Yerevan Square in the center of the town of Tiflis (now Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia).
The State by Franz Oppenheimer (1864-1943) was recommended to me years ago by friends as a Libertarian classic of political science. However, having just finished this tome, I now suspect that some of them did not actually read the book, but instead only read passages from it.
For weeks, Joseph Stalin had been plagued with dizzy spells and high blood pressure. His personal physician, Professor V. N. Vinogradov had advised that Stalin step down as head of the government for health reasons. That was not what Stalin wanted to hear from the good doctor. Soon the Professor would pay for this temerity and indiscretion with his arrest and alleged involvement in the infamous Doctor's Plot (dyelo vrachey).
Press Release (Monday) November 14, 2011: Stalin's Mysterious Death
Did Stalin, the Soviet dictator, die a peaceful death in his own bed or was he poisoned by Beria? What is the new medical evidence?
Let us now discuss the more arcane, extreme and revolutionary, right-wing philosophy, namely anarchism. You may ask when and where in recent history have anarchist revolutionaries been successful? For the answer, we must travel back in time to Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). It was in Barcelona and surrounding districts that idealist anarchism flourished in the early period of the war as anarchists defended the radical Republican government that the communists also supported against the military insurrection of General Francisco Franco.
"One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic," said Joseph Stalin (1879-1953). It is estimated that between 20 to 40 million people, mostly Russians, were killed by Stalin during his dictatorship (1924-1953). Stalin, the Soviet dictator, not only exterminated purported "enemies of the peoples" but also liquidated almost the entire slate of communist Bolshevik leaders, who had been his and Lenin's friends during the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The "Right" versus "Left" convenient but capricious political arrangement came from the seating position of delegates to the National Assembly during the French Revolution, but it is at times a confusing concept and too often subject to media and academic bias and even misinformation. I have found it easier to have a political spectrum based on degrees of government control.
Recently, as if on cue, I have noticed liberal jabs at religion of a peculiar nature. It is as if, from the coldness of his tomb, Karl Marx (photo, below) was inciting these little jabs by his latter day disciples to prop up yet another aspect of his failing communist (socialist) philosophy, a philosophy that refuses to die.
Stalin: The First In-depth Biography Based on Explosive New Documents from Russia's Secret Archives by Edvard Radzinsky is an authoritative, engaging, thrilling, and edifying biography of the Red Czar of the Soviet Union, the tyrant Joseph Stalin.
Stalin’s Last Crime — The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953 by Jonathan Brent and Vladimir P. Naumov is an in-depth study in psychological survival in a nightmarish police state — Stalin’s Russia, circa 1948-1953. The untangling of this Gordian knot of conspiracies and plots is the convincing achievement of the authors of this suspenseful, historical drama.
Unvanquished: Cuba's Resistance to Fidel Castro is a cliffhanger, non-fiction book that reads like a novel. It's the stupendous work of the serious scholar, Enrique Encinosa, who has written the definitive works on the guerrilla wars waged by anticommunist Cuban rebels against the repressive, totalitarian regime of Fidel and Raul Castro. His original masterpiece, Cuba En Guerra: Historia De La Opocision Anticastrista, 1959-1993, has now been updated and abridged for the Anglo-American public and published in English!
As head of the Institute of Military History of the USSR and General of the Soviet Army, Dmitri Volkogonov had access to secret Soviet documents not available to other historians up to the time of Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika.
This is an excellent article but the demand for a post-WWII Japanese and Nazi hunt down and execution of the worst of the enemy overlooks the simple fact that we lost the war in Vietnam thanks to our politicians and there has been no true fall of the Soviet Empire just a shift to becoming an economic drain on our economy. The defeated can hardly demand of the victor.
Donald C. Thompson, MD
Former Cpt, USAF, MC, FS
Vietnam veteran and River Rat