To Overthrow the World

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Communism

September 2024 9781911723530 528pp
Forthcoming Pre-order
Available as an eBook
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Three decades since the Soviet Union’s collapse prompted Francis Fukuyama to proclaim the ‘End of History’, things look different. Russia may no longer be Communist, but Stalin is more admired there than at any time since his death in 1953. The United States has bled power and prestige in uncanny parallel with China’s rise in economic strength and global influence—not least in the US itself. Liberal democratic capitalism seems moribund, while Chinese Communism assimilates the world. How and why did this happen?

In his sweeping history, Sean McMeekin investigates the evolution of Communism from the seductive ideal of a classless society into the ruling doctrine of tyrannical regimes. From Marx’s writings to the global resurgence of Communism in the twenty-first century, McMeekin argues that, despite the endurance of this political system, it remains deeply unpopular. Where it has arisen, it has always arisen by force.

Blending narrative with cutting-edge scholarship, To Overthrow the World revolutionises our understanding of Communism—an idea that seemingly cannot die.


‘A wide-ranging examination of how the concept of communism was a key driver of the conflicts of the 20th century—and remains a significant force.’ — Kirkus Reviews

‘This vivid history contains valuable insights, including that of Bakunin, the Russian anarchist, who immediately pointed out the crippling contradiction of Marxism—that it merely substitutes one power-hungry form of government for another. McMeekin follows this sceptical thread, detailing economic weakness and political madness of Communist regimes.’ ― Geoffrey Wawro, author of The Vietnam War: A Military History

‘No other book to my knowledge has demonstrated so damningly the endemic falsity of the ideology’s doctrines, together with the appalling consequences of the social experiment in a worldwide setting.’ ― Nikolai Tolstoy, historian

‘An essential read. Sean McMeekin is one of the few historians who understands the history of Communism from the ground up. He has written a powerful and urgent book, revealing communism in all its ugly detail, and showing how its pernicious influence still lingers on into the twenty-first century.’ ― Nick Lloyd, author of The Western Front

‘With amazing scholarship, Sean McMeekin tells the story of the rise and fall of Communism. McMeekin punctures one myth after another. Many people today are too young to remember the Cold War, and it is vital that they learn the facts about Communism found in To Overthrow the World.’ ― David Gordon, Senior Fellow, Ludwig von Mises Institute


Sean McMeekin PhD was educated at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. Having visited American and European battlefields, libraries and archives, venturing as far east as Russia and Turkey, he now teaches at Bard College. His eight award-winning books include Stalin's War: A New History of World War.

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