JOURNEY INTO REVOLUTION by Albert Rhys Williams

JOURNEY INTO REVOLUTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As a New York Post reporter Williams shared John Reed's romantic participation in the Revolution of 1917-18. He died in 1962; this supplement to earlier memoirs freely employs socialist hindsight. There are portraits of top Bolsheviks (he particularly admired Alexandra Kollontai, ""elegant, erudite"" and ""a tigress as an organizer"") and of the ""fearless, sober, hardheaded"" lower-level cadres whose death in the civil war deformed the Revolution long before Stalin took over. Williams' conversations with Reed and their manifold activities (including assistance in organizing the Red Army) animate the book, and despite journalistic overwriting Williams conveys something of the Pilnyakian turbulence of the period. He deals in greater, fresher depth than many more formal writers with essential questions--why the Soviets had effective power well before the November uprising; intra-party debates over the Brest-Litovsk peace and the land program; the obstacles to achieving a ""peasant-proletarian alliance."" Williams is generally sympathetic to Lenin's positions (apart from the fact that Lenin was ""the most thoroughly civilized and humane man I have ever known"") and makes provocative use of primary sources and eyewitness testimony to interpret them. In general, he stresses the connection between the Bolsheviks' internationalism and their awareness that socialism could scarcely be achieved by a workers' dictatorship over a peasant majority in an isolated Russia. Unfortunately, this unique retrospective may get lost among last year's welter of anniversary publications.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1969
Publisher: Quadrangle