Koba the Dread

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Knopf Canada, Aug 13, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 336 pages
4 Reviews
A brilliant weave of personal involvement, vivid biography and political insight, Koba the Dread is the successor to Martin Amis’s award-winning memoir, Experience.

Koba the Dread captures the appeal of one of the most powerful belief systems of the 20th century — one that spread through the world, both captivating it and staining it red. It addresses itself to the central lacuna of 20th-century thought: the indulgence of Communism by the intellectuals of the West. In between the personal beginnings and the personal ending, Amis gives us perhaps the best one-hundred pages ever written about Stalin: Koba the Dread, Iosif the Terrible.

The author’s father, Kingsley Amis, though later reactionary in tendency, was a “Comintern dogsbody” (as he would come to put it) from 1941 to 1956. His second-closest, and then his closest friend (after the death of the poet Philip Larkin), was Robert Conquest, our leading Sovietologist whose book of 1968, The Great Terror, was second only to Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago in undermining the USSR. The present memoir explores these connections.

Stalin said that the death of one person was tragic, the death of a million a mere “statistic.” Koba the Dread, during whose course the author absorbs a particular, a familial death, is a rebuttal of Stalin’s aphorism.

From the Hardcover edition.

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User Review  - PaulRx04 - LibraryThing

Amis is an excellent writer in fiction, history and politics.Stalin makes Hitler smaller than an ant. Never see Russia the same after this. Helps explain the Russian mindset. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SigmundFraud - LibraryThing

It is difficult to say that I enjoyed Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million by Martin Amis. There is too much brutality to enjoy the book. But it was most informative. I have never read ... Read full review


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The Politicization of Sleep
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Ten Theses on Ilyich
Congress of Victors1
Prolonged and Stormy Applause
Congress of Victors2
Kolyma Tales
The Kirov Murder
Reason and the Great Terror1
Show Trial

More Background
The Collapse of the Value of Human Life in Practice1
Nicholas the Last
The Collapse of the Value of Human Life in Practice2
Getting to the Other Planet
The Epic Agony of the Gulag
The Isolator
The New Men
The Little Mustache and the Big Mustache
Demian Bedny
The Gray Blur the Yellow Eyes
The Kremlin Complexion
Rhythms of Thought
The Second October and the Breaking of the Peasantry
Men and Mountains
The TerrorFamine
Poison Pen
Heavy Industry
Reason and the Great Terror2
Voices from the Yezhovshchina
In the nightmare of the dark All the dogs of Europe bark
Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya
The Taste Inside Stalins Mouth
Bolshevik Bravery
It loves blood The Russian earth
The Saddest Story
Into the Sere
The Bedbug
Negative Perfection
Letter to a Friend
The Beginnings of the Search for Decorum
Butyrki Nights
The Forty Days of Kengir
As the stars are known to the Night
Letter to My Fathers Ghost

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About the author (2010)

Martin Amis is the author of nine novels, two collections of stories and five works of nonfiction. He lives in London.

From the Hardcover edition.

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