Book review: War & Lenin in the 21st Century by Gary Wilson

“I trust that this pamphlet will help the reader to understand the fundamental economic question… the question of the economic essence of imperialism, for unless this is studied, it will be impossible to understand and appraise modern war and modern politics.” 

– Vladimir I. Lenin, Preface to “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”

The words imperialism, capitalism, socialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism, combined with words like war, occupation, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), IMF (International Monetary Fund), and globalization, are used at many mass demonstrations worldwide. What do these terms mean?

Gary Wilson’s recently released book, “War and Lenin in the 21st Century,” defines these terms with a 21st-century analysis and concrete examples. His analysis build’s on V.I. Lenin’s 20th-century classic, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,” which is also included in the book.

Some of the topics discussed in the book include: 

  • What are the key features of imperialism that Lenin describes?
  • Does Lenin’s analysis of imperialism hold up today?
  • What does this mean for today’s struggles against wars and occupation?

On the cover of Wilson’s book is a protester in the forefront with a facial cover, both hands up, one holding a sign that reads “STOP NATO” and the other giving a peace sign. In the background is a sea of people in Berlin protesting NATO’s involvement in the Russian-Ukraine conflict in January 2023. Protesters gathered under Berlin’s iconic landmark, the Brandenburg Gate, which symbolizes Cold War Berlin. Above the book title is an image of the massive demonstration in Niger against French neo-colonialism and U.S./French imperialism in August 2023.

With the worldwide humanitarian and environmental crisis that exists today as the result of global war, it is imperative that people deepen their understanding of the meaning of imperialist wars, neo-colonialism, and occupation.

I purchased the paperback copy of the book on Amazon and liked the font size, index, and extra blank pages for notes. Having Lenin’s analysis of imperialism included helps in examining how it holds up today by highlighting key terms throughout the book referenced in the index.

Gary Wilson is a writer and co-editor for Struggle-La Lucha. The first five chapters can be accessed online at, and V.I. Lenin’s “Imperialism” is also available on the Marxists Internet ArchiveI highly recommend this book for study and discussion sessions seeking a deeper understanding of imperialism and imperialist wars. A paperback or e-reader copy of the book can be purchased here.

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