Email this review


Sandor Voros is very unlike the numerous ex-Communists whose names are identified with maudlin, expose-type autobiographies and itinerantly emotional stories of bitterness and disillusionment. First of all, Voros is an imposing writer with plays, magazine articles, and years of impartial journalism to his credit. His prose is sharp and powerful; he is a master of subtle innuendo, but basically every passage in his book rings with knowledge, facts, reality. Secondly, American Commissar is almost totally free of self-pity, of that noxious sense of degradation that pervades the pages of other books on the same theme. As a youth Voros was a politically-naive cadet in Hungary's Red Army, a part-time medical student, an aspiring writer. When anti-Semitism sent his family fleeing to America, he tried to complete his studies but soon followed them. To make a living he worked hard in a fur sweatshop, and taking the step from the fur industry's Red- dominated union to the Communist Party required surprisingly little exertion on his part. Willing comrades' hands dragged him on. Intellectually, he was unable to penetrate behind the Communists' propaganda -- until he returned as a hero of the Lincoln Brigade only to learn that the Soviet Union had closed its doors to the comrades who had fought valiantly in Spain and were then starving as forlorn captives in France and elsewhere, the undesired remnants of a once-glorious cause. His break with the Party, his subsequent existence as a blacklist victim, unable to get a suitable job because of his past, and his determination to enlist in the service of liberty are the book's significant framework, from the midst of which bursts forth the tragic and utterly moving story of his Party-directed odyssey to Spain and the vile excitement of the Spanish Civil War. No book could possibly be more damaging to the cause of the Communists in America.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1961
Publisher: Chilton