ON A FIELD OF RED: The Communist International and the Coming of World War II by Anthony Cave & Charles B. MacDonald Brown

ON A FIELD OF RED: The Communist International and the Coming of World War II

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A very long narrative, with none of the thriller-appeal of Cave Brown's 1975 Bodyguard of Lies, that mostly recounts how the Communist International--the Soviet-dominated association of the world's Communist parties--was perceived, and responded to, from its inception in 1917 to the start of World War II. It is not a history of the Comintern; it does not pretend to establish a causal relationship between the Comintern and World War II. Indeed, the Comintern figures here only because the authors overestimate its importance as an agent for world revolution. That professed aim, however, was quickly submerged as the European Communist parties became embroiled in domestic politics--ludicrously so, trying to apply blueprints drawn up under very different circumstances in Moscow. But all this activity--sometimes involving actual spying--did make a great many national leaders think there was a real danger from the Left, and so led them to ignore the danger from the Right. This misapprehension, together with Stalin's use of the Comintern to advance Russia's own foreign policy (especially during the period of the Hitler-Stalin pact), is about as close as Cave Brown and MacDonald come to linking the Comintern with the war. They do successfully show that Churchill and others were obsessive about the Russian threat and that the Cold War actually began in 1917; but that isn't new. For the rest, the book is popular history without much verve or much point.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1981
Publisher: Putnam