THE AMERICAN LIBERALS AND THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION by Christopher Lasch

THE AMERICAN LIBERALS AND THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the Foreword to this volume Mr. Lasch states that ""liberalism in America, no less than communism in Russia, has always been a messianic creed, which staked everything on the ultimate triumph of liberalism throughout the world."" It is this clash of creeds which he has chosen to study; and in view of the enormous scope and confusion of the subject, it is easier to relate what he does not attempt to cover than what he does. After carefully narrowing the impossibly broad term ""liberal"" as much as he is able he admits that ""this is a study of ideas more than men and movements."" Moreover, the ideas are mainly those of a few professional ""liberals"" of Wilson's era who quickly had to assess the wholly unprecedented and therefore incalculable phenomenon that was the Bols rise to power. Mr. Lasch does not attempt to go much beyond 1920 in his investigation. His observations and conclusions are meticulously footnoted and owe, as he acknowledges, a great deal to that eminent historian, George F. Kennan. The layman should be warned: the real worth of this book (which is considerable) will not easily be ascertained without a considerable command of the history of both the Russian Revolution itself and the political affairs of the United States between 1917 and 1920. This is in at least one sense a great shame, because what might have been an important book of general interest has been confined, through lack of background material on the men and movements, to an audience of specialists to whom much of it is very probably old hat.

Pub Date: Nov. 19th, 1962
Publisher: Columbia Univ. Press