Jumping the Line: The Adventures and Misadventures of an American Radical

William Herrick, Author, Paul Berman, Introduction by University of Wisconsin Press $21.95 (260p) ISBN 978-0-299-15790-6
Unlike most activist memoirs about time spent in the American Communist Party, Herrick's (Hermanos!) is stripped of nostalgia. Instead, the book drips bitterness and rancor. Herrick was orn to socialist Jewish immigrants in 1915, and his early years coincided with the left's strongest showing in U.S. history. Herrick vividly captures the headiness of these decades, of his youthful experience with the Young Communist League; on Sunrise Farm, a short-lived, socialist/anarchist commune; and on dozens of picket lines. Then, in 1933, at the party's behest, he went to Spain as a member of the famed Abraham Lincoln Battalion. Herrick witnessed the atrocities of war firsthand, but found that many of the most egregious crimes were carried out by badly trained, scared comrades. His current hatred of the Communist Party is so strong that he presents every party official as a dogmatic automaton, blindly following Moscow's orders. While this is undeniably true in some cases (see The Soviet World of American Communism, reviewed Jan. 26), there were also many Communists and fellow travelers who, while no doubt naive, were deeply committed to fighting for justice and equality. In fact, Herrick's bitterness is so great that the FBI was able to induce him to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) by offering him the chance ""to get even"" with the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB), which leaves one wondering about his current stature as an ""American radical."" One leaves the book feeling cynical and angry, unable to envision any way to possibly change the world. Author tour. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/13/1998
Release date: 04/01/1998
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Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-9668567-1-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-9668567-0-5
Paperback - 279 pages - 978-1-902593-42-5
Hardcover - 303 pages - 978-0-299-15793-7
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