Hammer and Tickle: A Cultural History of Communism

Hammer and Tickle A Cultural History of Communism Communist humor is 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 Communis

  • Title: Hammer and Tickle: A Cultural History of Communism
  • Author: Ben Lewis
  • ISBN: 9781605981260
  • Page: 187
  • Format: Paperback
  • Communist humor is 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 surrounded by secret police, threatened with arrest, imprisonment and forced labor, a failed economic system, and bombarded with ludicrous propaganda turned joke Communist humor is 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 surrounded by secret police, threatened with arrest, imprisonment and forced labor, a failed economic system, and bombarded with ludicrous propaganda turned joke telling into an art form, using them as a coded way of speaking the truth and coping with the absurdity of the system In this poignant and historically revealing book, rare and previously unpublished archival material, including cartoons, caricatures, photographs, and oral transcripts take the reader on a unique journey through the real experience of the Communist era.

    One thought on “Hammer and Tickle: A Cultural History of Communism”

    1. 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 joke! [...]

    2. 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 [...]

    3. 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 [...]

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

    6. 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 wer [...]

    7. 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 pens [...]

    8. 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 [...]

    9. 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 [...]

    10. 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.

    11. Não é daquele tipo de livro que recomende, algumas partes têm a sua piada mas o autor dispersa e perde 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 linkdevaneiosdatim/201

    12. 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.

    13. This is a two for one reason, Ben Lewis spends the last 100 pages justifying his thesis even though through out the book he proves a totally different thesis if he could only see it. His basic thesis is jokes brought down communism or at least helped. What he proves through one on one interviews with magazine editors, communist political hacks and aparchnicks, his girl friend, approved and underground comics, and just plain old folks is that jokes helped us cope and that many former folks in the [...]

    14. I had the feeling that the author was disappointed that he didn’t find a huge number of victims for saying jokes against the system. To my opinion, the existence of even one person that has suffered for this is already too many. For someone who has lived his entire existence in a place where freedom of speech is guaranteed by law I believe it is difficult to understand how it is to live somewhere where you can be sentenced, deported or even killed for saying a dark joke. And even the fact that [...]

    15. Not to be confused with “Hammer and Tickle: Clandestine Laughter in the Soviet Empire” by Petr Beckmann published in 1980 which is the book I was after when I accidentally bought this one, Lewis’s 2008 book tells the history of jokes told in European communist countries through the decades. He traces the development of the first communist jokes some of which were adaptations of jokes from pre-revolutionary imperial Russia. He noted the influence from Nazi jokes, the appearance of jokes in [...]

    16. Rather serious book on topic of jokes in communist countries. Author of course tells some jokes but he first of all tells the story of developement of anti-regime jokes in USSR and later in Eastern and Central European countries and explores if an to what extent they played part in downfall of Communism. To learn about that he traveled from Berlin to Budapest, Bucharest, Prague, Moscow and elsewhere to research archives and talk to people who were telling jokes and also to those who prosecuted j [...]

    17. 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 [...]

    18. 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. С [...]

    19. 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 comm [...]

    20. 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 d [...]

    21. Ревю: lammothsblog/2012-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 за [...]

    22. I’ve always had a special place in whatever parts of my brain find things funny for communist jokes. (Well, I couldn’t say heart, could I?) About a month ago, I ran across a review of Ben Lewis’s Hammer & Tickle: The History of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes and had our Interlibrary Loan department find me a copy to read. In this book, Lewis attempts to argue that communist jokes had a role in the end of Communism. This book is not written like the typical non-fiction-work-with [...]

    23. 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 [...]

    24. 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 [...]

    25. 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.

    26. 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.

    27. 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.

    28. 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.

    29. 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.

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