Email this review


Max Nomad has written several books about political skeptics, rebels, rene and revolutionary ""apostles"" and he believes that human progress can be recorded in terms of the protest against the status quo they have sparked. ""To record all these struggles"" would require a ""lifetime effort"" and he has narrowed his subject here to ""the various, often contradictory phases of socialist thought and action"". But since his definition of ""socialist"" is broad enough to include everyone from Plato to Bakunin, Trotsky, Castro and Mao Tse-tung, this still leaves him with an utsized task. He has divided his ""heretics"" into seven categories: Dreamers, Rebels, Critics, Gradualists, Ultras, New Masters (Russia under the Communists) and Tools and Dupes. In each he provides concise portraits of many important figures, together with explanations of their basic ideas and the main differences among them. The last chapter reviews the history of Chinese Communism, and the epilogue briefly outlines man's present ""cruel choice"": between personal freedom without security, and security without freedom. The experts may quibble over various matters of interpretation and emphasis, but this much is certain: seldom has so much of such a complex subject been covered, so clearly and fairly, within the confines of one volume.

Publisher: Univ. of Michigan Press