Long before the words "politically correct" entered our vocabulary, Lenin and his associates set about installing an altogether steelier and more suffocating notion: "political literacy." By every means, down to censoring the content on matchbook covers, the Bolsheviks declared the minds of the people their possession to mold as they chose. With unmatched thoroughness and persistence, they brought to heel the press, theater, art, film, and every other form of public culture. Brooks meticulously surveys the process by which this was done and the product it yielded. Much of the book focuses on the images and ideas in the press from 1917 to 1953, accompanied by a splendid selection of facsimile front pages. Brooks' very careful history, however, neither provides nor allows an explanation for why so much intellectual and artistic creativity was nevertheless produced in these utterly stifling circumstances.