Last year the author, a British historian, achieved a suces d'estime with his two-volume biography of Rosa Luxemburg. This concise contribution to the History of European Civilization Library series will be both well-received and widely read, for it is vastly superior to most of the half-century assessments. Nettl calls it a ""broad and highly selective interpretation,"" not a history. The interpretations present no single, spectacularly novel thesis; the book's singularity derives from the author's marked ""objectivity,"" and his ability to maneuver and penetrate on a general level. He has a masterful way with groups, institutions and processes, and he is very much in possession of his conceptual equipment, alive to loaded terms. Thus he makes most of his colleagues' comments on, e.g., the relation of the Party to state and society appear both long-winded and superficial. The fifty years between 1917 and 1967 are divided into five phases: revolution, consolidation, industrialization, rigidification, and modernization. There is a prior chapter on ""disintegration"" and a final speculative essay. The analyses of Soviet-Eastern European ties and the Khrushchev era are particularly interesting; unfortunately there is much less on China or Vietnam.