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Socialism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #126)

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  396 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Today, most people think of socialism as an outdated ideology. In this Very Short Introduction, Michael Newman seeks to place the idea of socialism in a modern context for today's readers. He explains socialist ideas in the framework of its historical evolution, from the French Revolution to the present day, and examines practical attempts to implement socialism.
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Paperback, 171 pages
Published September 22nd 2005 by Oxford University Press (first published July 28th 2005)
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Arghya Dutta
Socialism, by Michael Newman, is a book which is lucid and thoughtful, accessible yet undiluted and informative without being boring. It is extremely difficult to write a comprehensive book on a topic like Socialism that fits in the Very Short Introduction category, and the author has done an impressive job in achieving that feat. I am glad that I have read this book.

What I specially like about this book is its focus on some topics that are elaborated upon, well, not too frequently. After defini
Ahmad Sharabiani
Socialism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #126), Michael Newman

Today, most people think of socialism as an outdated ideology. In this Very Short Introduction, Michael Newman seeks to place the idea of socialism in a modern context for today's readers. He explains socialist ideas in the framework of its historical evolution, from the French Revolution to the present day, and examines practical attempts to implement socialism.
Not just another history of socialist ideas, this
Ali Almatrood
Dec 24, 2016 Ali Almatrood rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2016
أفضل من المقدمة التي تحدثت عن الرأسمالية في اللغة وفي تقسيم الكتاب..
يستعرض الكتاب تطوّر الاشتراكية بقسميها، الشيوعية والاشتراكية الديموقراطية بتقسيم جيّد، وذلك من خلال التطرق للثورة البلشفية الروسية كبداية لتحقق الاشتراكية في العالم، أو كاشتراكية قوية، وأيضًا من خلال التطرق للنموذجين المهمين: كوبا والسويد باعتبارهما نموذجين ناجحين للشيوعية (كوبا)، وللاشتراكية الديموقراطية (السويد). وذلك بالإضافةإلى الصعوبات التي واجهها النموذجان. ذلك بالإضافة إلى الإضافات التي زادت من قيمة الحركة الاشتراكية سياس
Jul 24, 2015 Clif rated it it was amazing
I'm hooked! Thanks to a review by another Goodreads contributor, Hrishabh Chaudhary, I discovered the "A Very Short Introduction" series produced by Oxford University. With dozens of titles covering subjects from physics to Aristotle, scholars take on the challenge of making what could easily be off-putting issues covered in lengthy books into concise and readable short texts. Think of the project as one that appeals to those who might be attracted by the "Idiots" or "Dummies" series but don't w ...more
Aug 14, 2012 MG rated it really liked it
As one reviewer pointed out, the term socialist gets thrown about too easily these days. A book like this lends some focus and a bit more specificity to the everyday use. The first chapter titled Socialist Traditions (on the utopian socialists, anarchists, and Marx's problems with both) is clear and well written. With regard to Marx, you will probably not find a more concise explanation of constant and variable capital, surplus value (rate of exploitation), and production anywhere else. Some par ...more
Feb 14, 2017 Erick rated it liked it
Basically, as an introduction, it's useful. But if you really want to know about Socialism and how its true tenets combat the problems that are caused by how it is usually hijacks by capitalism or other philosophies, then you really need more than this book. Plus, the book is just a bit drab in its writing. Just sayin'. :)
Oct 07, 2015 Sujan rated it really liked it
The book begins with a discussion on both the theories and practices of different socialistic thoughts, although it concentrates on the two most dominant socialist doctrines, viz. communism and social democracy. Then it shows both pros and cons of these socialist traditions. Finally it ends with an optimistic tone for socialists, delivering the scopes where socialism can be still considered relevant and giving a brief suggestion on how to learn from the past, rectify the errors, and embrace the ...more
Jun 07, 2010 Keeko rated it it was amazing
Very clear, informative, and realistic. I learned a lot from this book. I kept my hand over the title when I was reading it in public so I wouldn't have to deal with people flipping out. It's an interesting subject, and I like how he presented all the pros and cons. I also like the quote at the end from Oscar Wilde, "A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not even worth glancing at for it leaves out the one country where Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it l ...more
Mark McKenny
Apr 24, 2015 Mark McKenny rated it liked it
I think this book does all that it's meant to do. Give you a very short introduction to Socialism, and point you in the right direction of what/who to read next. A great little series of books.
Jan 17, 2016 Caitlin rated it really liked it
Does exactly what it says on the tin: a quick and succinct overview of the history of socialism and proposals for future progress.
David Anguiano
Aug 21, 2010 David Anguiano rated it really liked it
An absolutely essential introduction to socialism's core principals and historical milestones. Very simple to understand -- I couldn't put it down.
Mohamed Gamal
Nov 12, 2015 Mohamed Gamal rated it liked it
الترجمة العربية الوحيدة المتوفرة ( دار الشروق) سيئة للغاية.
Melissa McHugh
May 10, 2012 Melissa McHugh rated it it was amazing
I chose this book to read because I wanted to understand socialism better in order to update my honors thesis as to my subject's contributions to early socialist theory in the nineteenth century. I thought this book (I hoped anyway) might fulfill its purpose as an introduction to a subject that is often verboten in US political discourse. As a history student, I obviously understand that socialism does not equal communism and since beginning my study of nineteenth century political thought, I do ...more
Apr 21, 2011 Reva rated it liked it
Even more than with the Fascism book of this series, I needed an introduction to this introduction. With long chapters and elevated language, this book doesn’t easily elucidate a whole lot of overarching concepts about socialism and/or social democracy, but instead drowns its victim in fascinating yet minute details and statistics. Nevertheless, socialism crops up within our current society, and that fact alone kept the book readable. The utopian societies he mentions as the foundations of the m ...more
Valters Bondars
Sep 16, 2016 Valters Bondars rated it really liked it
Shelves: aaa_read_finance
C. Derick
Jul 29, 2014 C. Derick rated it liked it
Newman's very short introduction has the problem that many of these introductions have in that they must cover very complicated and lengthy terrain in a 100 or so pages. Socialism is duly hard as it is both internally and externally contested as a term, has 200 years of emerging and failing models and critiques, and has probably become even more polarizing in opinions since this book was written. Newman's focus on traditions in the first chapter, case studies in the second, historical problems i ...more
Jul 31, 2011 Harold rated it liked it
Shelves: politics-history
Really it should be three and a half. A valuable reference but it lost a star because I found the writing a little too drab. I've decided I need a better grounding in the meaning of these terms we hear tossed about constantly by manipulative politicians and talking heads. Manipulators are using terms like "Marxist" and "Socialist" knowing that too many people really have NO clue as to what they really mean and simply accept the negative connotation implied. Hence when I come across something lik ...more
Dana Garrett
Jun 11, 2012 Dana Garrett rated it it was amazing
While not neglecting early socialists and socialisms, the author mostly focuses on post 19th century socialism, a welcome emphasis given that most other introductions do the opposite. Given the author's generous and ranging definition of socialism, he is able to include an interesting analysis of social democracy in the work. His contrasts between social democracies and Marxist-Leninist states are quite compelling. He provides an excellent introduction to how socialism has fertilized and been fe ...more
Jul 04, 2012 Ryan rated it really liked it
I got this book because nowadays the word socialism is thrown around in what seems to be a very superficial way. While I felt that what was being called socialism was not, I didn't really have an appropriate grasp on the concept(s) to explain why. This Very Short Introduction was a nice quick way to survey some of the dominant themes in socialist theory and governance. In general I love Oxford's Very Short Introductions series because are accessible without being superficial in treatment of the ...more
Jun 15, 2012 Lindsay rated it liked it
Keeping in mind that it billed itself as a "very short introduction", I did appreciate the information there. Unfortunately, the writing was quite dry which is to be expected for a quick history of socialism.

Although it provided a lot of information in a concise writing format, I was disappointed at its focus. It took for granted that the reader would already have a full understanding of socialism, and instead dealt on analyzing the various governments and regimes and the success or failure of
Scott Goddard
Jan 02, 2016 Scott Goddard rated it liked it
I found the author to be especially critical of socialism and, rather than furthering the cause, was actually quite hostile towards it. This is of course more inclusive, yet I think the author emphasised the cons of socialism over its pros. Still, it was an interesting read, if not tedious (at certain points).
Jackson Cyril
Jun 16, 2015 Jackson Cyril rated it really liked it
What is notable about this book is that it focuses not on the Soviet Union (the author's reason being that it is treated far more thoroughly in other works, which I agree with) but rather focuses on Scandinavian Social democracy, Cuban Communism, the Socialist Feminist movement and the Green Socialist movement-- topics highly relevant today.
Titus Hjelm
Jul 11, 2012 Titus Hjelm rated it really liked it
A well-written historical intro with fascinating case studies of Sweden and Cuba (as opposed to the usual big powers). Positively sympathetic to socialist ideas and their relevance for today. Again, as with the 'Capitalism' short intro, I wonder what a second, post crisis edition would look like.
Rory Armstrong
Apr 22, 2013 Rory Armstrong rated it really liked it
A great introduction. It discusses the benefits and pitfalls of socialism along with a nice overview of the history. Recommended for anyone with an interest but not wishing to delve into a larger, more technical volume.
Aug 16, 2011 Alan rated it really liked it
Love it or loathe it socialism has been a powerful force and shapes how we think about power, politics and poverty today. Michael Newman delivers a concise, clear and interesting introduction to the theories, personalities and history of socialism.
Tylor Lovins
Nov 22, 2011 Tylor Lovins rated it liked it
This is more or less an examination of not-so-socialist countries. I was hoping more for a discussion of socialism in light of the current state of capitalism but I was wrong. I would recommend it if you want to understand a so called history of socialist ideas.
E. Kahn
Aug 18, 2014 E. Kahn rated it it was ok
Dull, meandering, very little on trade unionism, anarchism, cooperatives etc. and much too much on feminism, which deserves (and has) its own "Very Short Introduction" book.
Matt Hunt
could use more theory and critique of that theory, maybe. heavily focussed on case studies and examples so I came away with a lot of new knowledge but a weak overall framework.
Feb 19, 2012 Carmen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good survey and history. Also looks unflinchingly at the current state of socialism but convincingly argues it has a future.
Andrew Mccallum
Andrew Mccallum rated it really liked it
Apr 07, 2013
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