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The black and the red

A French book on communism equates Hitler's "genocide of race" with Stalin's "genocide of class." Timothy Garton Ash considers the implications of comparing Nazism and communism

The most important books are not always the best ones-and the best books don’t always make the greatest impact. The Black Book of Communism, which provoked much controversy when it was published in France last autumn, is a very important book-and quite good, as well.

Its importance is intellectual, moral and political. By cataloguing the “crimes, terror and repression” of all the communist regimes of the world it reminds us of that huge “asymmetry of indulgence”-to use a phrase coined by Ferdinand Mount-with which the historical memory and political conscience of the western world have long treated communism as opposed…

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