Nearly thirty years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, we have got used to seeing the Bolshevik Revolution as the prelude to a failed political experiment, albeit one that lasted a remarkably long time. But why do we see it as a failure? After all, the Soviet Union was a vast empire regarded as the military equal of the United States, feared and hated by successive US presidents, whose influence extended far beyond Soviet borders to include regimes in Africa, South East Asia, Central and South America. Had Mikhail Gorbachev not been removed in 1991, and had the Soviet system been able to reform itself into something like the form of communism we see today in China, no one would regard those seventy-plus years of Soviet power as a failure at all. What is meant by failure, in truth, is not really military or economic failure so much as a failure to sustain and uphold the ideals of equality and social justice that originally drew so many to the communist cause. The haemorrhaging of members from the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1956, for instance, was a result of widespread feelings of shock and disgust after Nikita Khrushchev's revelations at the Twenty-First Party Conference that year, at which he delivered his so-called ‘secret speech’ condemning Stalin's regime. For those who left the CPGB, and other communist parties across Western Europe, it was painful to realize that what they had for decades dismissed as ‘anti-Soviet propaganda’ had in fact been accurate reportage. Most shocking of all was learning that the mass arrests and disappearances of the 1930s, and even the show trials of prominent Politburo and party members, were not proportionate, if regrettable, responses to plots to murder Stalin and overthrow Soviet power at all, but rather Stalinist crimes of epic and tragic proportions. Right up to the end of the Communist regime in Russia, reports of political and religious repression, the continued use of the Gulag system, confinement and forced treatment of dissidents in mental hospitals, literary and other cultural censorship continued to filter through the Iron Curtain.