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Books in Review

An Important Book

(Summer 1957)

From The New International, Vol. XXIII No. 3, Summer 1957, p. 204.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Communist International 1919–1943, Documents. Volume 1 – 1919–1922
Selected and edited by Jane Degras
Oxford University Press, 1956. 463 pp.

This volume, the first in a promised series, is a valuable collection of documents issued by the Communist International during its “heroic period” – as Jane Degras describes it – from its founding call in January 1919 through the Fourth Congress in December 1922. Included are programmatic statements of the Communist International, analyses of international events, instructions and advice to national Communist parties. The letters, resolutions, theses, etc., are preceded with background and explanatory material written by Jane Degras. Her own anti-Leninist bias, revealed in many of these notes, leaves much to be desired in the way of her own contribution to the book. But her notes, which do have some value, are only of incidental importance. There are more than four hundred large pages of some of the most significant documents in Communist history. What is more, the translation, made from the German, is excellent.

Although the volume is a massive collection of documents it suffers, nevertheless, from incompleteness. Many of the most important documents are extracts. The most important theses of the CI have been edited in varying degrees; in many of them truly major deletions have been made. It would have been more useful to have fewer selections without any editing than to ask the reader to assume that the many deletions made are either of no importance or are well provided for in Jane Degras’ introductory remarks to each major selection.

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