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Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left [Paperback]

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Item Number 282359  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   205
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 25, 2002
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  189355452X  
EAN  9781893554528  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Ronald Radosh's earliest memory is of being trundled off to May Day celebrations by his communist parents with a Soviet flag stuck in his baby carriage. Then came education at New York's "little red schoolhouse." Summers at "commie camp." And college at the University of Wisconsin where he became a founding father of the New Left. Commies is a brilliant memoir of growing up in the culture of radicalism. But it also about the hard decisions faced by those professing a radical faith. For Radosh himself, the crisis came when he concluded in his authoritative book on Julius and Ethel Rosenberg that the couple (on whose behalf he had demonstrated as a boy) had indeed been guilty of spying. Attacked as a "traitor," Radosh began to question his political commitments. His disillusionment climaxed in the 1980s when he traveled through Central America as a journalist and historian and ran into his old comrades there still searching for the revolution. One journalist calls Ronald Radosh "the Zelig of the American Left, seen everywhere and knowing everyone." Humorous and tragic, filled with anecdote and personality, Commies is a trip log of his journey, the most intimate look yet at the experience of a radical generation.

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More About Ronald Radosh

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Allis Radosh has taught at Sarah Lawrence College and the City University of New York, and served as a program officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Ronald Radosh, professor emeritus of history at the City University of New York and adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is the author or coauthor of fourteen books, including The Rosenberg File. He has written for The New Republic, National Review, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. This is the second book they have written together. They live in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Actually, There Were Commies Under the Bed  May 11, 2008
Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left is the best sort of memoir, a charming, controversial, score-settling peek into a world otherwise hidden from outsiders -- in this case, the world of American Communists and fellow-travelers. Written by a red diaper baby, the book opens in the tightly-knit world of the New York City Jewish immigrant community during the late 1930s.

To those raised on the notion that American Communists were a McCarthyite myth, it will be a novelty to read of Radosh's yearly vacations at one of four Communist summer camps operating in the U.S. (his was often frequented by Woody Guthrie) and his education at the "little Red schoolhouse" -- Elizabeth Irwin School. Radosh began his activist career with the Communist youth, working to free the Rosenbergs after they were arrested for spying. From there he entered into the New Left during the 1960s, helping to found the movement. Along the way, Radosh rubbed elbows with practically everyone on the hard Left: Michael Harrington; Ed Asner; Obama's terrorist pal Bernadine Dorn; Irving Howe; Bianca Jagger; Bob Dylan; Henry Wallace and a host of others.

Commies operates on multiple levels. Anyone looking for a big picture view of the hard Left will find it here (though Rise and Fall of the American Left by Diggins is more comprehensive.) More personally, Radosh recounts his journey from fervent Communist to staunch advocate of the United States and its way of life. This transition began with his attempts in the 1970s to prove the innocence of the Rosenbergs. When he discovered that they truly were spying for the Soviets, it shook his faith deeply. Moreover, his publication of these findings caused his expulsion from the Left, with old friends declaring him an enemy of the cause.

In typical Soviet fashion, even respected Marxist historians such as Paul Buhle of Brown University and Columbia's Eric Foner have written Radosh out of the history of the American Left. His memoir serves as a corrective to the official record. It isn't hard to see why they want him forgotten -- this is a man who knows quite a few inconvenient truths.
Great book but one problem  Jan 7, 2008
This book is great. There is a great problem with this book however that if you read it you will want to tell people about it. If you try to tell people about it you will sound like a conspiracy nutter. It creates quite a frustrating dilemma for the rational.
Red Diaper Baby Grows Up  Jan 5, 2008
Ronald Radosh seemed fated to be an activist on the left. Not only were his parents left-wing activists, but his mother's cousin was an anarchist and his uncle Irving was killed fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Just in case his pedigree wasn't sufficient to inculcate him in the ways of socialism and communism, his parents also made sure he attended Camp Woodland ("commie camp" as the author terms it) in the summer. After elementary, Mr. Radosh attended Elisabeth Irwin (well-known for its left-leaning faculty) before graduating and moving to Madison, Wisconsin for college. In "Commies", Mr. Radosh leads us on his journey with the American left in this autobiographical and cautionary tale. We accompany him as he attends college and graduate school, experiences marital difficulties, secures work as a teacher, debates communist doctrine with fellow-travelers, and drops more than a few famous names (Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Bob Marley to name just three) with whom he has come into contact. As time passes, he begins to perceive chinks in the leftist armor: blindness towards Castro's behavior in Cuba, doctrinaire confederates, and the harsh treatment he receives after his findings in the Rosenberg case slowly create serious doubts. His numerous trips to El Salvador in the 1980s and the refusal of his friends to acknowledge the crimes of the Sandinistas act as the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.

"Commies" is reasonably well-written and contains numerous interesting anecdotes; however, it is an autobiography. This book is not the history of American leftism in the 20th century, but instead a recounting of the author's interaction with the people and ideas of the left during this time frame. This is by no means the first book of this genre written and is to some extent, therefore, similar to the others. What differentiates this book form some others is how much of himself he pours into the present tome. This same passion, however, also detracts from the story at times. The marches, protests, arguments over the true meaning of communism/socialsm and the like become a bit too much and the previously mentioned name dropping does begin to create the impression of a self-absorbed individual with an axe to grind. Ultimately, his unique experience and otherwise good writing make this a serviceable book for those wanting to gain some appreciation for the subject. Additionally, this tale provides further validation of Emerson's warning:

"A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming."
An Important Book  Oct 30, 2007
The main thing you should know is that this is not a fun book, not a tell-all-with-wicked-abandon memoir. It's a serious, earnest book. The author had Commie parents, everybody he knew was a Commie, his whole world and every thought was Commie-made. (And all of this is intermixed with Jewish identity.) And then his world starts to crumble. But not quickly. Over years. In many painful phases. You think he's happy?? Everybody he ever knew hates his guts. He's lost the meaning of life. For Radosh, it's all as much fun as finding you have cancer and your true love is leaving.

And the simple truth is, for anyone losing their religion, you're never sure where you are, how far you've gone, could you go back??? No, apparently not, Radosh just kept drifting, drifting...And toward what? Being a somewhat ordinary patriotic American. Omigod, can you imagine what his Commie friends thought about that!

In sum, right wingers may not find sufficient red meat here. Left wingers, often so rigid, will resist what Radosh says. "Commies" might really be best for the puzzled people in the middle. People who don't know much history--but now they're ready to learn. "Commies" is an excellent autobiography and a great portal into American history during the twentieth century.
I'm Buying It!  Sep 13, 2007
A critical look at the Left-w/out Horowitz'z hundred plus page self-important therapeutic self-absorptions? There is a God! I'm buying it.

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