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This section includes book notes of 150-300 words as well as some book reviews of 600-900 words on books of particular interest to the members of our group. If you have either suggestions for books you would like to review or see reviewed (including recent books of your own), please contact Cas Mudde. Book Notes Robert J. Alexander, Maoism in the Developed World, Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001, 223 pp., GBP 50.50, ISBN 0-275-96148-6 (hbk). Reviewed by Cas Mudde (University of Antwerp) It is unclear what Alexander set out to do. The preface only tells us that the book "deals basically with Maoism in the 'developed' countries" (p.ix); i.e. North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Technically, not even this is true, as it 'deals' almost exclusively with Maoist parties. The preface further states that the author has "used two principal sources of information in working on this study […] the Yearbook on International Communist Affairs [… and…] documents of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschland [sic!] (SED)" (p.ix). Well, "used" is somewhat understated, as there is virtually nothing in this book that doesn't come from these two sources. Still, not all books need to be original; some volumes are useful for bringing things together in an organised manner. But this is not a handbook or encyclopedia, like, for example, O'Maoláin's The Radical Right: A World Directory (ABC-Clio, 1987). It has the same problems as these kinds of publications – various mistakes in translations, names, and dates – but not the major advantages: structure and surveyability. Rather, Maoism in the Developed World is structured like a monograph, with most chapters dealing with Maoism in a particular country – though there are several chapters on the U.S. while the Scandinavian countries are dealt with together – and having introductions and conclusions (despite being often only five pages or so). What emerges is an unstructured pulp of names and details concerning tiny 'parties', without the necessary context and structure to make sense of it all. Moreover, much of the facts are enormously dated (i.e. of the 1960s and 1970s) and it remains completely unclear what has happened to most of them since at least 1989. All in all, this book adds little if anything to the (very limited!) existing knowledge and is not worth buying.

2003 04 02 book reviews  
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