With the politically overheated calling for what amounts to a juvenile rainwashing on the subject of communism, the necessity for a temperate presentation of its ideology, history and development has become of paramount importance in school systems across the country. This is an outstanding book. ""It is a mistake to think that one can learn all about Communism by reading one book. But it is also a mistake to think that one must know everything about it in order to have a pretty good idea of what it is."" Mr. Johnson therefore concentrates on ""basic notions"". He examines Marxist philosophy for its major points in relation to the function of a government. How the Russian Revolution boiled up is outlined. From Lenin to Ehrushchev, there are no heroes or villains designated. They are assessed as political leaders in terms of their own backgrounds and their public performances. Throughout, and without condescension, the emphasis is on the contrast of Russian communism with the goals of democracy; the state taking precedence over the individual and the consequent loss of freedom. The loss of freedom of mind inherent in the system is repeatedly underlined as the most tragic kind of captivity. The last chapter is given over to recent communist history and provides a good guide for junior Kremlin watching. Mr. Johnson's talent for keeping things basic is atched by the illustrator's powerfully drawn black and white pictures. A table of important events in communist history is followed by an index.