Unlike the world of democratic politics with its ever-present television cameras and investigative reporters, the world of communism is a realm of mysteries and shadows, understood by few who do not actually hold power. Richard Staar and the 79 regional specialists who have contributed to this encyclopedic volume have performed an invaluable public service by sifting through the available documents and reports to give readers a country-by-country assessment of the people and policies currently guiding the communist world. An excellent biography and tables of key officers and organizations make this an especially useful reference work. Taken together, the yearbook presents a depressing panorama of tyranny and repression, economic collapse and food shortages, intrigue and infighting. Yet here and there signs of hope persist: dissent and protests in Eastern Europe; stubborn resistance in Afghanistan and Nicaragua; reluctant experimentation in China. International Communism is hardly in retreat, but its worldwide triumph is still far from assured.
[Yearbook on International Communist Affairs, 1985: Parties and Revolutionary Movements, edited by Richard F. Staar; Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press]