RARE FIRST EDITION OF JOHN REED UNDER THE KREMLIN, 1922, ONE OF ONLY 235 COPIES HANDSOMELY PRINTED BY WILL RANSOM AT HIS PRIVATE PRESS, SIGNED BY JOURNALIST LINCOLN STEFFENS AND ATTORNEY CLARENCE DARROW
(DARROW, Clarence) STEFFENS, Lincoln. John Reed Under the Kremlin. Chicago: Walden Book Shop, (1922). Slim octavo, cord-bound as issued, original brown paper wrappers, uncut; pp. 16. $2500.
First edition of this eulogy to American Community Party co-founder and pro-Soviet journalist John Reed, one of only 235 copies printed on Whatman handmade paper by Will Ransom at his private press, signed on the title page by author Lincoln Steffens as well as by the author of the introduction, famous attorney Clarence Darrow.
"Just as the leaders of the first republic of letters, starting with Leibniz, had begun their idyll with the old new Russia by direct contact with its founder, so their latter-day successors began their romance with the new new Russia at the dawn of Red October. Thus was born the category of what Trotsky soon baptized 'fellow travelers.' The journalist John Reed, harvard class of 1910, alienated from the American democracy of J.P. Morgan… arrived in Petrograd in October 1918 just in time to witness its 'ten days that shook the world,' and to record them as seen through the eyes of Lenin and Trotsky" (Malia, Russia Under Western Eyes, 340). Expelled from the Socialist Party upon his return, Reed co-founded the Communist Labor Party. Reed was swiftly indicted for sedition and fled back to Russia where he died a year later of typhus. His ashes hold a privileged place in a wall of the Kremlin, beside the urn of Stalin. "In 1919 a muck-raking journalist and enemy of corporate corruption and machine politics, Lincoln Steffens, visited Russia to report on the results of October. On his return to the West he declared, in a remark soon heard round the world, 'I have been to the future and it works.' To develop this point, in 1920 he wrote John Reed Under the Kremlin, published by the Walden Book Shop with an introduction by [controversial American litigator] Clarence Darrow. Thus Bolshevism was wedded to the tradition of American radicalism and the heritage of Alexander I's old admirer, Thomas Jefferson" (Malia, 340).