Basically a factual account of what happened in Russia following the revolution, and how a constant wave of purges killed millions of people.
Anyone who has any inclination towards Communism should be made to read this, to see just what happens when too much power is given to the State.
One thing that really stood out for me, and which shows the ridiculousness/horror of the situation is this part, where people started clapping at a meeting in praise of Stalin but everyone was too scared to be the first to stop...
A district Party conference was under way in Moscow Province. It was presided over by a new secretary of the District Party Committee,
replacing one recently arrested. At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was
called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the
conference at every mention of his name). The small hall echoed with "stormy applause, rising to an
ovation." For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the "stormy applause, rising to an ovation,"
continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people
were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored
Stalin. However, who would dare be \hQ first to stop? The secretary of the District Party Committee
could have done it. He was standing on the platform, and it was he who had just called for the
ovation. But he was a newcomer. He had taken the place of a man who'd been arrested. He was afraid! After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who quit first!
And in that obscure, small hall, unknown to the Leader, the applause went on — six, seven, eight
minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn't stop now till they collapsed
with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap
less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly — but up there with the presidium where everyone
could see them? The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man,
stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still
kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party
Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm
on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and
on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And
even then those who were left would not falter. . . . Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the
paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took
place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone
else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The squirrel had been smart enough to jump
off his revolving wheel.
That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they
went about eliminating them. That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted
ten years on him on the pretext of something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the
final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him:
"Don't ever be the first to stop applauding!" '