The Full Weight of Surrealism

History of the Surrealist Movement Gérard Durozoi University of Chicago Press, 2002 This massive work, originally published in France in 1997, is actually a history of surrealism as it manifested itself in the visual arts—painting, sculpture, and film. The movement’s core literary expression receives short shrift in the book’s 800-plus pages. The political battles of […]

Late Literary Anti-Fascism in the Consumer’s Republic

American Night: the Literary Left in the Era of the Cold War by Alan M. Wald University of North Carolina Press, 2012 Historian Alan Wald brings to a close his three-part study of the literary output of the American left from the 1920s through the 1950s with American Night: the Literary Left in the Era […]

The Specter of Depression: Paul Mattick’s Business as Usual

Business as Usual: the Economic Crisis and the Failure of Capitalism Reaktion Books (London), 2011 Paul Mattick’s Business as Usual is an attempt to come to grips with the global economic crisis that began in 2007 in Marxist terms, an entry into a growing category books which includes David Harvey’s The Enigma of Capital. Mattick […]

Retrospective Review: Boris Souvarine’s Stalin

Stalin by Boris Souvarine, translated by C.L.R. James Alliance Book Corporation, 1939 No biography in the conventional sense can be written about Stalin, due to the far-reaching falsification of the historic record of the “life” the man lived. Although Boris Souvarine’s Stalin is frequently referred to as a biography, it can be more accurately described […]

Alan Wald on the literature of the Browder era

Trinity of Passion: the Literary Left and the Antifascist Crusade University of North Carolina Press, 2007, (319 pages). Alan Wald, a cultural historian of the U.S. left and editorial board member of Against the Current, is now midway through a projected trilogy on leftist writers of the twentieth century. Trinity of Passion: the Literary Left […]

No Politics Are Local: A Critique of Robin Kelley’s Hammer and Hoe

I have finally taken the time to read Robin D.G. Kelley’s Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression. The book was written twenty years ago, but it is still widely read and its subject matter is of such importance that it warrants a brief review here. Kelley is a professor of American Studies […]

Between Uncle Sam and Papa Doc

Red & Black in Haiti: Radicalism, Conflict, and Political Change, 1934-1957 Matthew J. Smith (University of North Carolina Press, 2009) *** Even for those sympathetic to Haiti, the big events—the great revolution at the close of the eighteenth century, the brutal Duvalier regime, and the roller coaster ride of Aristide’s political career—are probably all they […]