Richard McGregor - The Party
I wish I liked it more, but the truth is that this book has been (I'm still finding my way through it) a major disappointment.
Mind you, I have read some books dedicating a superficial analysis to the mechanisms of either the Russian CPSU or the North Korean communist dynasty and I know something on how things went in the DDR or in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Hungary behind the Iron Curtain.
I've never suffered of the complex that Germans like "Ostalgie" (nostalgia for life under communist East Germany), I've never voted for a party with the term "communist" or "socialist" in its name and I like calling myself a "right leftist" - whatever that means.
I'm definitely not a conservative supporter and don't believe in the cheap virtues of liberalism.
What I would probably be quite satisfied to vote for - if Italy or England had something like that - is an equivalent of the Norwegian Arbeiderparti, a decent "party of workers" with some greenish issues which doesn't suffer the identity crisis experienced by the British Labour and the unbearable nihilism ravaging the Italian Democratic Party.
But Norway is a fairytale.
And green socialism there wipes its oil-stained face.
The only time in which I somehow flirted with communism I was 16 years old and a bunch of nice girls claiming to be "Young Leninists" - whatever that meant - approached me out of school. I was invited to one of their weekly politburo.
I went there and it turned out that taking part to that meeting was important for two reasons:
1) it gave me enough inspiration to write a short story named "A Little Leap Backwards" years later (unpublished, I'm afraid).
2) it led me to lose all of my potential interest for any aspect of the Communist cosmology (Che Guevara posters, Marx quotes, CCCP branded football shirts etc.).
It's true the Young Leninist girls were attractive, wore pantyhose and knew who Trotsky was ("a renegade!"), but how I could cope with such convincing logic that "Karl Marx wrote 300 books, have you read all of them?" as the (male) leader of the YL addressed me with a grin painted on his face?
I simply didn't have the time (and the money) to make myself a Marx bibliography. And that's where the flamboyant Young Leninist groupies lost me. No regrets left.
Alright. My apologies for this useless preamble.
What I wanted to stress out is that I cannot help but finding quite interesting the stories narrating the way in which the communist apparatchiks overruled over the economic, cultural and social lives of whole countries. And I like reading about deranged politics and politicians' idiosyncrasies.
However, The Party by the Australian journalist Richard McGregor is a bore.
At least for me.
I never managed to get into the narrative structure of this author and found his way of writing so dry that I had to keep a bottle of water at hand.
Seriously, I did my best with this book but haven't like it a bit so far.
I see there is a lot of insight work, research and first account stories behind The Party, but maybe it's just me not caring that much about The secret World of China's Communist Rulers. Who, accidentally, are all but communist in their thirst for good business. And I am sure my beloved Young Leninist girls would have not approved this.