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Piggy Foxy and the Sword of Revolution – A Fine Collection of Art by the Old Bolsheviks

February 2, 2012

Like other Annals of Communism books, Piggy Foxy and the Sword of Revolution is for the serious students of the history of Russian communism. It shows us the lighter side of the ‘comrades’; the kind of jests they used to play on each other, particularly in making caricatures. This book is a collection of these caricatures and portraits. It mostly describes the period before the Great Terror, before the iron regime of Stalin stifled all intellectual imagination. Most prominently it features the wit and art of Bukharin, the man who, according to Solzhenitsyn, was capable of stemming the bloody run of the Communists in Russia.

As a student of Stalinist history, it came to me as a surprise that humor was still possible under the dictatorship of the proletariat. This book shows that even under extreme duress, human creativity breaks out in the most unexpected of places. While describing the underlying brutality of the Communist regime, these caricatures prove the basic premise of Communism wrong: it shows that social engineering is impossible; man can never be bound into ideologies.

The introduction by Simon Sebag Montefiore is very interesting and necessary for going through the portraits and caricatures.

This is not a book to be read in both literal and symbolic sense. The portraits cannot be leafed through at one go. One has to absorb the history underlying these portraits over a period of time, while studying other historical works and contemplating over the life of Communist Russia. Not a volume to be studied in isolation but very useful for those who are deep in the history of Russian communism.

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