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The Roots of American Communism by Theodore Draper

The Roots of American Communism by Theodore Draper


New York : The Viking Press, 1957. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. 498 pages ; 22 cm. $6.75 dust jacket. Pages clean and unmarked. Binding firm.

The Roots of American Communism

This definitive history is the detailed and factual story of the Communist party in America, from its early background through its founding in 1919 to its emergence from the underground in the nineteen-twenties. In dealing with these significant formative years, the author discloses the pattern that has carried through to the present. He traces the native and foreign strains that went into the party; the people who actually made up its membership and leadership; its structure and operation; the shifting policies that guided it; the factional differences within it; its secret as well as its open activities. He makes unmistakably clear how the party in its infancy "was transformed from a new expression of American radicalism to the American appendage of a Russian revolutionary power." He has ferreted out a staggering array of facts and information that are available nowhere else.

Skilled in journalism as well as in historical scholarship, Mr. Draper brings to life the individual leaders — including among many others Foster, Browder, Fraina (Lewis Corey), and Reed. His stories of the underground days and of the spies and counterspies are thrillers of the first order. And in tracing the network of connections with Russia, the overwhelming impact of the Russian Revolution, and the step-by-step control exercised by the Comintern thereafter, he not only creates a dramatic narrative but helps us to understand what is happening to world communism today.

His work is of unparalleled value to historians and students, as well as of lively interest to the general reader. A picture section of contemporaneous photographs and cartoons makes its own graphic contribution to the study.

Mr. Draper had already been at work on this book for some time on a part-time basis when the Fund for the Republic announced in 1955 its large-scale project for an over-all survey of the influence of communism in American life. Mr. Draper joined the project on a full-time basis, and his work has become the first and key volume in a series of independent books, under the general editorship of Clinton Rossiter, that will result from this survey. In a later volume, due in 1958, Mr. Draper himself will carry the subsequent history of the party up to 1945.

THEODORE DRAPER is the author of two historical works: The Six Week? War, a history of the fall of France ("One of the really great interpretative and analytical volumes to emerge from this war." — Chicago Sun); and The 84th Infantry Division in the Battle of Germany, the official record of the unit in which he served overseas in World War n, which Hanson W. Baldwin called "one of the best divisional histories of the war." He has written for numerous major publications and more recently has been a regular contributor to The Reporter. He has observed the Communist movement, inside and outside, for almost twenty-five years. He himself was active in the movement as a young student in the early thirties and served for a time on the staffs of the Daily Worker, the New Masses, and the Tass news agency. Although he broke with the movement entirely in an early stage of World War II, his youthful experience has been a tremendous asset in his historical research for this book.

Publishers of The Viking Portable Library 625 Madison Avenue, New York 22

". . . An outstanding contribution to knowledge and understanding of the Communist movement in this country. Mr. Draper deserves con-gratulations for careful research, objective presentation, and a series of helpful insights into the motivation of those who were involved in the early stages of these tragically misguided efforts." - GEORGE F. KENNAN,
former U.S. Ambassador to the U.S.S.R.

Some questions answered by THE ROOTS OF AMERICAN COMMUNISM :

Who were the first American Communists? • Who were the first American ex-Communists? • Why did a revolution in Russia in 1917 mean so much to them? • Why did it shake up the existing American radical movement and bring about an altogether different line-up such as we still have with us today? • Why did the relations between the Russian Communists and the American Communists become so unequal? • What was the effect of official repression on the first generation of Communists? • Why did so many early Communists prefer the "underground" to an open, legal party? • When did the Communists become inhibited in dealing with subjects like force and violence? • Why was there so much Communist resistance to the "united front" when it was first proposed in Moscow? • Why and when did the first Comintern representative with plenipotentiary powers come to the United States? e What was the first Communist change of line and what can it tell us about all later ones? — from the Introduction

"Theodore Draper has done a magnificent piece of research . . . and he has rigorously analyzed all his data. In a field in which precision would have seemed almost impossible he has produced a model of scholarship.... From now on no one will have a right to talk about communism in America who has not read this book."

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