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

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9780297853541: Hammer And Tickle: A History Of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes

Q: Why, despite all the shortages, was the toilet paper in East Germany always 2-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 80 years of political experimentation in Russia and Eastern Europe, known as Communism. The valiant and sardonic citizens of the former Communist countries - surrounded by an invisible network of secret police, threatened with arrest, imprisonment and forced labour, confronted by an economic system that left shops empty, and bombarded with ludicrous state propaganda - turned joke-telling into an art form. They used jokes as a coded way of speaking the truth. 'Hammer and Tickle' takes us on a unique journey through the Communist era (1917-1989), and tells its real history through subversive jokes and joke-tellers, many of whom ended up in the gulags. It is also illustrated with a combination of rare and previously unpublished archive material, political cartoons, caricatures, photographs and state-sponsored propaganda. Humorous, culturally poignant and historically revealing, this is the story of a political system that was (almost) laughed out of existence.

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About the Author:

Ben Lewis' award-winning film HAMMER AND TICKLE was broadcast on BBC4 in 2006. His article on Communist jokes for PROSPECT magazine, received the greatest number of hits on their website for any article last year.

Review:

'marvellously original... a fine tribute to the joyous, humane anarchy of laughter, whose nearest political analgoue is that ramshackle, chaotic system of political wishful thinking called democracy.' And their favourite joke? 'What stage comes between socialism and communism? Alcoholism.' -- CHRISTOPHER HART SUNDAY TIMES "entertaining and thoughtful study." -- GEORGE WALDEN EVENING STANDARD "we find at long last the jokes only communism could produce. And while they may not have brought it down, they can still tell us something important about why it fell" SUNDAY TELEGRAPH "wonderful... this isn't just a joke book. Instead, Lewis embarks on a deeply scholarly examination and analysis of the communist joke... an excellent job." -- MARTIN ROWSON NEW STATESMAN "an excellent anthology of anecdotes knowledgeably linked into the history of the Soviet period... very enjoyable to read" -- ELAINE FEINSTEIN DAILY TELEGRAPH "This book gives a good flavour of that socialist-era humour." MORNING STAR "explores the wealth of subversive humour during the long, bleak decades of communism." IRISH INDEPENDENT "Ben Lewis's grimly entertaining study is no mere joke compendium." -- GEORGE WALDEN THE SCOTSMAN "charming, highly original, elegantly written and valuable piece of cultural history... This is very funny book. Like the best Communist jokes, it is funniest when it is grimmest." -- Victor Sebestyen THE SPECTATOR "a fascinating attempt to get to grips with communism's rise and fall in Europe through its funny bone... their cultural significance shouldn't be underestimated." METRO - LONDON, LEEDS, NORTH EAST, N WEST,MIDLANDS

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