Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists by David Aaronovitch

Review published on April 27, 2017.

David Aaronovitch tells the story of his upbringing in a fervently Communist household in a very engaging and witty style. He provides context for the story of his life by explaining the history of Communism and, in particular, that of the British Communist Party. This is very welcome if, like me, you know nothing about the Party and have only a vague idea of the wider history of Communism. This history lesson was both interesting and entertaining.

The book is an unusual blend of history and biography and it shows what can happen when personal and political life become entwined. If you are interested in the social history of the 20th century, this is a compelling record of family and politics.

Towards the end of the book, the author reveals just how complicated his family relationships were and this is a fascinating account of how each member of the family was affected by various behaviours. The detail recounted in this later section helps to explain the earlier wider picture.

The book brought back some long forgotten memories for me. In the early 1980s, my then-boyfriend lived in a house owned by a couple who held important positions in the Workers’ Revolutionary Party. Various people would visit and we used to overhear their earnest politically focused arguments, which we found both intriguing and amusing.

The author has some thought-provoking observations on how people react and behave when faced with truths that turn your previously held beliefs completely upside down. I learned a great deal from this book and would thoroughly recommend it in terms of either a personal read or a book group read. There is a plethora of issues here to keep a book group discussion going for hours!

Maxine Forshaw 5/5

Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists by David Aaronovitch
Vintage 9780099478973 pbk Feb 2017


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