A bitterly comprehensive indictment of Marx and Marxism handed down by a sometime stalwart of the USSR establishment who, however, offers almost no insights on his own conversion from apostle to apostate. A consummate insider whose career as a CP apparatchik eventually earned him membership in the Politburo, Yakovlev provides an impassioned audit of the many ways in which Marxism proved ruinous for Soviet Russia. Among other things, he charges that the Marxist version of socialism produced a despotic state in which doctrinaire ideology and skewed priorities led to any number of socioeconomic disasters--from the brutally repressive Bolshevik era right on through the infighting that erupted following reforms instituted under Gorbachev. Similarly, Yakovlev (who turns 70 this year) casts a cold eye on the havoc wreaked by a closed system that precluded any possibility of dissent, let alone objective analyses of its faults. Braving such an analysis of his own work, the author confides that his own son pronounced this book futile on the grounds that its conclusions have long since been self-evident. Many Western readers--especially those familiar with Arthur Koestler (The God That Failed, Darkness at Noon, etc.) and other liberal critics of Kremlin dogma--will concur. As Yakovlev points out, however, it's important for those who played leading roles in one of the 20th century's great tragedies to bear witness, in part to dash any hope that Marxism might be redeemed from the Stalinists. He warns, moreover, that people unaccustomed to thinking or acting for themselves could be tempted to trade a measure of their hard-won democratic institutions for the promise of material gain. A damning, eloquently made case against Marxism--but one that lacks genuine resonance for want of an accounting of its author's change of mind.