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Hammer & Tickle: A History Of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes
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Hammer & Tickle: A History Of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes

3.3  ·  Rating Details ·  158 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Q: Why, despite all the shortages, was the toilet paper in East Germany always two-ply?
A: Because they had to send a copy of everything they did to Moscow.

Communist jokes are the strangest, funniest, most enchanting and meaningful legacy of the eighty years of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe. The valiant and sardonic citizens of the former Communist countries—surro
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published May 29th 2008 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
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This book had potential but alas it was researched and written by someone who I can only describe as a "jerk". Ben Lewis, it seems, knows all about communism and life in the USSR... except he doesn't, not really. He interprets events and people's actions in ways that just do not add up, and he often makes absolutely horrendous remarks - there were parts where it seemed he was upset that "only" a few hundred people had their (and their relatives') lives changed or destroyed because they told a ...more
Aug 24, 2008 g026r rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, 2008
An interesting book that could be so much better.

While the concept of a study of Communist jokes, their origins, and their effect (or non-effect) on the downfall of the Soviet Bloc sounds interesting in theory, the book ultimately leaves one unsatisfied. Too much is spent with the author's "Am I right? Am I wrong?" musings, and the snippets of his interactions with others do little but make one wonder how much more he could have discovered had he not let his biases and dismissive attitude show s
Jerry Reeves
Dec 04, 2012 Jerry Reeves rated it it was ok

To be honest, two stars is little generous. Really not keen on this at all. The author seems particularly disagreeable (not of itself a reason to dislike the book) and I hope the girlfriend is a made up character used to move the book on to new areas. If not, poor girl!
It takes more than 200 pages for Lewis to realise that most of the jokes he mentions have actually been around for years; millennia in some cases. He may have delayed introducing this idea deliberately but to me it just made him
Dec 16, 2008 Brian rated it liked it
This book has a lot of good jokes and a lot of interesting historical information, but to get to it you have to wade through a good deal of crap.
Nuno Ribeiro
O livro de Ben Lewis é divertido. E intelectualmente honesto, parecendo influenciado pelo jeito de Joe Sacco fazer reportagem das suas próprias dificuldades, dos seus fracassos e sucessos ao contactar fontes, e ao escrever sobre os processos de investigar uma pista, alternando isso com o resultado em si. O livro é uma agradável mistura de relatos pessoais de como foi concebido, pensado, da relação pessoal do autor com uma artista da ex RDA (Alemanha de Leste) e do que Lewis recolheu e pensa ...more
James (JD) Dittes
As a German teacher, I teach a little history along with der/die/das. I'm always challenged when it comes to teaching teens about East Germany and all that Communism entailed. It was an enemy that was self-evident to me when I was growing up. To them, it's ancient history.

Last year, I inserted some East German jokes into my lecture about the Berlin Wall. A month or so later, I found this book. I loved it.

This is a history book, make no doubt. Lewis organizes the monologue chronologically, moving
Ana-Maria Bujor
Jan 01, 2016 Ana-Maria Bujor rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
I've always known Communist jokes, as I've heard them growing up. I've also wondered whether they had any effect on the regimes overall. The book presents some answers, as well as some history behind the jokes. I found out things I did now know and a few new jokes.
I think the book could have been a lot more if the topic had been treated differently. The author/narrator (not sure) felt the need to be funny and sarcastic and it did not work for me. I also think he could have been less dismissive
May 26, 2011 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts off with an intriguing premise: to look at the history of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe through the jokes that were told about it. Unfortunately, the author attempts more analysis than is necessary, and it comes across as being unsatisfying. Also, the author interrupts the narrative too often to talk about himself. This is likely the author's background as a newspaper columnist, but it is highly unsatisfying in a book.
Jun 13, 2016 Tim rated it it was ok
Shelves: leituras-2015
Não é daquele tipo de livro que recomende, algumas partes têm a sua piada mas o autor dispersa e o interesse. No entanto, para quem gosta de história este livro é o ideal para conhecer o mundo das anedotas na época de hitler e Estaline... Sim, na era comunista havia pessoal a dizer piadas interessantes

Para saber mais, basta ir a este link
Andrew Davis
Sep 05, 2013 Andrew Davis rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book has not been written by a historian and it shows. If you can skip descriptions of author's personal life and his often patronising and dismissive treatment of his interviewees you will be able to get through this book. It presents very simplistic treatment of Cold War and life in countries behind iron curtain.
Jul 30, 2010 Marte rated it it was ok
While reading this you might get the impression that the author is a complete asshole. But the parts that are not about his amazing ego and natural Capitalist intelectual superiority are very interesting, and it makes for an enjoyable read.
Jun 05, 2015 Owain rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics-history
If you think obscure jokes unearthed from forgotten archives in Eastern Europe by a self-confessed pseudo-intellectual can offer a serious replacement for legitimate politico-philosophical debates about the USSR then you'll love this book. The author's main point is that he believes the fact that people told jokes in the USSR in some way discredits the ideological aims of the soviet system to create a better society. When in reality all these jokes show us is that a portion of the population ...more
The first time I read this I had the same reaction that other reviewers had: the book is annoyingly full of the author's ongoing relationship with his neo-Communist East German girlfriend. This is unfortunate because I think most readers will only read it once, and it was only when I went back over the book, skipping the personal bits, that I realised how very interesting the author's observations actually are.

Lewis began with an idea he liked, which was that the unique set of jokes that flouri
Sep 06, 2011 Tzeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Още като видях в книжарницата "Сърп и... пук!" на британския журналист с еврейски произход от BBC Бен Луис, реших твърдо, че книгата ще ми хареса. Подзаглавието "Историята на комунизма, разказана с анекдоти" и интересната карикатура на корицата привлякоха вниманието ми веднага. Само че останах изненадан, и то доста приятно! Очаквах смешна и саркастична книжка, изпълнена с шеги, вицове и общо взето художествена карикатура на комунизма в проза. Това, което открих вътре обаче беше едно съвсем ...more
Nuno Ribeiro
Dec 20, 2014 Nuno Ribeiro rated it liked it
Ben Lewis writes a very entertaining book. And an honest one, that almost seems to be influenced by Joe Sacco's way of reporting his own difficulties, faillures and successes in contacting sources, and writting about the process of investigating a lead, alternating it with the actual result. The book is a pleasant mix of personal accounts of how it was constructed, thought of, of the personal relationship with an artist from former GDR (East Germany) and what Lewis gathered and thinks about ...more
Not a bad book if you can ignore the authors at times infuriating smug self rightiousness. Together with most authors of central/east European history he insists on calling what existed in those states Communism which I would argue is both empirically incorrect and not even in line with the propaganda of any of the states in question either. That aside there is an at times interesting and enlightening book with some worthwhile observations about the role of humour as a weapon of dissidence and ...more
Oct 07, 2012 Lammoth rated it really liked it

-Какво е общото между свободата на словото и оралния секс?
-Една грешка на езика и си в задника.
-Каква е разликата между живота от времето на Исус и от времето на Сталин?
-Ами, по времето на Исус един страдал заради всички, а по времето на Сталин - всички страдали заради един.
Брежнев прави обръщение към руския народ: "Другари, трябва да ви съобщя две важни новини - хубава и лоша. Лошата новина е, че през следващите седем години ще ядем само л
Oct 10, 2013 Andy rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, comedy
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is a study of the development of humour in a totalitarian state under the heel of a Marxist dictatorship! The humour, like the empire, stagnated as time progressed. ( Wow! Did I really just write that!!!)
It's never going to grip you and leave you wanting more because it's not meant to give you all out belly laughs. But if you have any interest in this era of humanity it's worth reading and seeing how humour can run parallel with society, and how one can
Ricardo Wanderley
This book has a nice compilation of jokes from the Soviet era, as well as a few useful comments apropos their historical significance along the way. That said, it's a shame that the author should break the fourth wall and appear to the reader as a cynical self-entitled bitch so often. Most of the times Ben Lewis tries to drawn insightful thoughts about psychology, philosophy and so on are nothing but cringeworthy. This is the kind of book that must be read as fast as possible, as the jerkness of ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Gemma rated it did not like it
Calling this "a history" is too grandiose a term for this book, rather it's a highly unlikeable tourist, stumbling through a region and period he doesn't seem to understand. There are many brilliant books written about the Soviet period, my advice is to find one of them and avoid this one at all costs.
May 03, 2016 Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall, an enjoyable overview of the Communist joke. Content funny and presented in a funny way. However, in some places, Ben Lewis spends too much time overindulging in his delivery, such as the Zimpsonivitches(or whatever). Otherwise, an interesting and funny read that at times was almost profound in its search for the role of the communist joke both in the USSR and in the author's own life.
Feb 13, 2012 Lillian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
I think Ben Lewis's research methods and conclusions were interesting and insightful. The book is primarily a narrative of his research process, which can be slow at moments but gives credibility to his ideas. He skillfully blends jokes into the story. I learned a lot about the people who lived under the USSR by reading the jokes, and I laughed.
Jul 18, 2012 Diogo rated it liked it
Uma visão por vezes muitíssimo interessante dos acontecimentos históricos que marcam a era comunista, que permite obter perspectivas diferentes dos mesmos assuntos abordados nos livros de história. Perde muito pelo estilo narrativo do autor.
Slavo Ingilizov
Jun 02, 2011 Slavo Ingilizov rated it it was ok
I expected far more jokes from the book, as opposed to the academic study of communist humour that I got. It takes a look at jokes very few people have taken before, but the narrative - although sarcastic and funny at times - seems dry and scientific.
Sep 11, 2011 Shelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thesis that 'anekdoty' brought down Communism is not proven in this book, but it was a very interesting read and worth the time anyway.
William rated it really liked it
Apr 10, 2015
Ian rated it really liked it
Jan 12, 2016
Sokol Kuznetsov
Sokol Kuznetsov rated it liked it
Sep 11, 2011
Alex rated it it was ok
Jul 08, 2015
Rullsenberg rated it liked it
Oct 28, 2012
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“There were jokes under fascism and the Nazis too, but those systems did not create an absurd, laugh-a-minute reality like communism.” 4 likes
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