Harold R. Isaacs

The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution

Written: 1938.
Source: The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution, London, SECKER & WARBURG, 22 Essec Street, Strand, W.C.2, 1938
Transcription/HTML Markup: Martin Fahlgren and David Walters
Public Domain: Harold R. Isaacs Internet Archive 2007. This work is completely free to copy and distribute.




Author’s preface

This book, the result of nearly four years’ work, arose out of the discovery that no detailed study had ever been made of the great events that convulsed China in 1925-27. The lessons of the social catastrophe that occurred at that time have been made especially timely by the events that began to occur after the bulk of this work had been completed and which are dealt with in the concluding chapters.

The author is indebted to many friends for the loan of precious materials, notes, newspapers, documents, pamphlets, and books used in the preparation of this volume. These have had a history of their own, for the Kuomintang regime, after 1927, burned them wherever found, and the archives of the Communist International, if they contain them at all, are closed to those who come seeking facts and rejecting falsified fancy.

Because so much of this material is here used for the first time and because of the decade-old campaign of historical falsification carried on by the Communist International in connection with these events, the author has set down precise and perhaps even over-numerous citations from contemporaneous sources for purposes of verification and for the guidance of future students. The spelling of Chinese names, varying so widely in different languages, has been made uniform throughout, including those in quotations, in accordance with the English usage most common in China. Acknowledgment is made here to J. C. L. for aid in translations from the Chinese.

Heaviest of all is the author’s debt to his collaborator, Viola Robinson, who pulled out all the weeds.


June 15, 1938.


Introduction by Leon Trotsky

I. Seeds of Revolt

II. Problems of the Chinese Revolution

III. The New Awakening

IV. Canton: To Whom the Power?

V. Canton: The Coup of March

VI. From Canton to the Yangtze

VII. The Shanghai Insurrection

VIII. The Prodigal’s Return

IX. The Conspiracy of Silence

X. The Coup of April 12, 1927

XI. Wuhan: “The Revolutionary Centre”

XII. The “Revolutionary Centre” at Work

XIII. The Struggle for the Land

XIV. Moscow and Wuhan

XV. Wuhan: The Debacle

XVI. Autumn Harvest

XVII. The Canton Commune

XVIII. Fruits of Defeat

XIX. The Rise and Fall of “Soviet China”

XX. The New “National United Front”