Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million. by Martin Amis (Talk Miramax; $). When the historian Robert Conquest was asked in. Koba the Dread has ratings and reviews. Maciek said: There has never been a regime quite like it, not anywhere in the history of the universe. A brilliant weave of personal involvement, vivid biography and political insight, Koba the Dread is the successor to Martin Amis’s award-winning.

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The Western comrades tend to describe themselves as Leninst-Marxist or a Trotskyist in an attempt to remove themselves from the stigma of Stalin; what Amis shows is that both Lenin and Trotsky were very much in favour of terro An admittedly one-sided investigation into the Bolshevik terrors upto the end thr Stalin’s time. Nazism was a one-off thing – of course it could sread again, and we must be wary, but it was a singular cult of personality that could be cast off, and it is a difficult formula to emulate.

The numbers are plausible, but not the fault. Quotes from Koba the Dread: The second world war killed some 50 million human beings; the Bolshevik revolution and the Soviet state killed at least 20 million between and Stalin’s death in One of my favorite quotes: There was no smoking gun, perhaps just a series of steps, augmented by chance, history, biological psychopathy combined with an efficient work ethic.

What is particularly interesting is that, even though Stalin killed 20 million some historians believe this number to be closer to 40 or 50 million of his own people, he was still liked and supported only partly out of This book is a mixture between memoir, history text, and college research paper about one of the most compelling and interesting people in history, Stalin.

The main gist behind the book is a simple one – where is the outrage? Of course, we’re grateful for Amis, as well as his hyper-rational friend Christopher Hitchens – as long as the world has Amis and Hitchens-types, we have a measure of rational safety. Lenin destroyed civil society, which Hitler never achieved. It takes a topic that I would be willing to wager most Westerners simply don’t know much about and distills it into an emotional blow that can be absorbed, and that will leave the reader thinking for days.

Amis actually does manage to evoke dark chuckles as he recounts the terrors of the Soviet system without making light of the suffering. Each leader applies his own, unique solution.


To ask other readers questions about Koba the Dreadplease sign up. There is a troubling bit of “memoir” appended to this book, an open letter to Christopher Hitchens taking him to task for his romantic attachments to the old Soviet Union.

Not that you hated it, not that you loathed it—a single star is not a black hole of antipathy—but just a note that a book didn’t satisfy you in some deeper sense. With this review I’ll just pass on some insights – There were subtle differences between Nazism and Stalinism – the softer difference was the humor In the German case, laughter automatically absents itself. The book is pages long. Why not just read Conquest?

Kingsley Amis would have been long forgotten, were it not for his son. The book looks at the large-scale context and many individual accounts, quoting from diaries, memoirs, post-Soviet studies, and a variety of other sources. The Decimation, the Fratricide, the Mindslaughter? It’s almost biblical, as it seems that in the end all sins truly will be forgiven – even Stalin’s. Why should Amis bother to write a second-rate history of the Terror?

And why, in world where the name Stalin is only somewhat less reviled than the name Hitler, do people still speak admiringly of Lenin and Trotsky “a nun-killer”, opines Amiswho were no less brutal in their aims, albeit more limited in their capabilities? But where is the fire, on a Communist planet?

But Koba the Dread is also a halt by a man in middle life, a pause on the road to ask questions, which cannot be avoided if that life is to be honestly told. Who is he attacking? View all 11 comments. I’m aware that the term psychopath is a cliche, when used to describe megalomaniac dictators – but Stalin exemplifies the superficial intellect, the charm and the delight in the destruction of others the scene of drunken parties where Stalin and cronies many of whom he later had killed laughing and reading the letters pleading for help from soon-to-be former comrades is chilling.

Many of those voices were once heard throughout the world – Eugenia Ginzburg, Varlam Shalamov, Nadezhda Mandelstam, Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago above all – but they are being rapidly forgotten now.

Because his sentences are beautiful. Wrapped around this core are some of Amis’ personal recollections – the death of his sister Sally, some struggle understanding his father’s move from a dedicated Communist to that of a dedicated right-winger, and all of this wrapped up with not a little guilt about his many happy years running in a social circle that was and, honestly, still is all too happy to make excuse after excuse for the Soviet experiment, despite the piles of corpses.


Feb 26, Tyler Malone rated it it was amazing. Remembering her [my sister, Sally: This page was last edited on 8 Octoberat Magnesium sulfate was administered by enema and hypodermic. The estimate of deaths under Stalin comes from Robert Conquest ‘s work, a key source for Amis. At least, I didn’t, and I’ve read Solzhenitsyn.

The black farce of history

But if called to account for this based strictly on numbers and the horror of personal stories, I think any of us would be hard-pressed to reduce that feeling to a cogent and consistent explanation. It is also a fairly rigorous, though often unoriginal forensic portrait of Stalin’s particular breed of tyranny, which Amis attributes both to his insanity as well as the totalitarian nature of the Marxist-Leninist system which he inherited.

Ths just me, saying I didn’t care for a book. Want to Read saving…. Amis rarely asks a reader to listen to his own opinions because he laces his book’s pages with sources.

As other reviews have pointed out, much that comprises Amis’ revelations within about the brutal communist despotism conducted by the Georgian Maestro has been pinched from the historic writings of other authors, with a particular emphasis upon those of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine: In far lesser cold, steel splits, tyres explode and larch trees shower sparks at the touch of an axe. This letter comes at the end of a book subtitled “Laughter and the Twenty Million. Amis will have none of it, though, and sets out to set the record straight. Curiously, Amis subtitled his book “Laughter and the Twenty Million.

Review: Koba the Dread by Martin Amis | Books | The Guardian

Amis moves through his own biography and family history with Communism to xread a personal history of coming to grips with Atrocity, in the person of Stalin, and the twenty million at least victims of the gulags, summary executions, purges, and deliberate famines. Hitchens was never a Stalinist, but he stayed loyal to an intellectual Trotskyist view of the Bolshevik revolution, which honoured Lenin and blamed Stalin for deforming the revolution kobs a state-capitalist dictatorship.

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I didn’t like it.