The inexorable rise of Communism was the most momentous political phenomenon of the first half of the twentieth century. Its demise in Europe and its decline elsewhere have produced the most profound political changes of the last few decades. In this illuminating book, based on forty years of study and a wealth of new sources, Archie Brown provides a comprehensive history as well as an original and compelling analysis of an ideology that has shaped the world. Tracing the story of Communism from its nineteenth-century roots, the book shows how the political movement Karl Marx described as a 'spectre haunting Europe' expanded throughout the world during the twentieth century, and how the principles and precepts of this revolutionary system became a living reality for many millions of ordinary people. Even today, although Communism has been widely discredited in the West, a quarter of humanity - in Asia and Latin America - still lives under its rule. Archie Brown explores the appeal of Communism to its adherents, its resounding successes and its catastrophic failures. In the 1950s and '60s, as tensions mounted within Eastern Europe, internal struggles came to dominate party politics, and fresh challenges from the West exerted increasing pressure on the Communist states to reform. The book considers why so many of these apparently invincible regimes collapsed when they did, often extremely suddenly, changing the lives of so many overnight. A groundbreaking work from an internationally renowned specialist, "The Rise and Fall of Communism" is the definitive study of the most remarkable political and human story of our times.