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'The literate communist' sheds light on the modern world's most consequential political tract. Professor Hodges' thesis is that the Communist Manifesto is not what it claims to be - a forthright and faithful expression of what communists believed in 1848 - and that its subsequent adaptations periodically opened the door to and slammed the door shut on communism. Part I introduces students to the Manifesto's conspiratorial legacy stemming from the great French Revolution of 1789-1794 and to Marx and Engels' informal amendments to it. Part II examines the 150-year-old posthistory of the Manifesto and its interpretations that pull in opposite directions. The author concludes that the Janus-faced Manifesto played a key ideological role in not only the rise, but also the demise of the Soviet Union.