cover image COMMIES: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left

COMMIES: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left

Ronald Radosh, . . Encounter, $24.95 (205pp) ISBN 978-1-893554-05-4

Radosh was once a communist and is now a conservative; this is his engrossing story of that transformation. Born into the insular world of New York Jewish radicalism, with its own high schools, summer camps and plenty of odd and romantic characters, Radosh took being left-wing for granted. Moving on to Madison, Wis., and college in the 1950s and then back to New York and teaching in the 1960s, Radosh fit easily into and became a leading spokesman for the burgeoning New Left. But doubts were forming about what he later came to view as the left's "reflexive hatred of the American system." These doubts were hardened by the attacks and rebukes he faced by former friends and colleagues upon publication of his book The Rosenberg File (written with Joyce Milton), which concluded that the couple were indeed guilty of espionage. Finally, as the left—his left—refused to see the dark side of the Cuban revolution and later the totalitarian tendencies of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, Radosh made a clean break with his past. He had, he writes, "ended my long exile from America," and finds the left today to be no more than a "collection of postures and grievances" and as arrogant and thoughtless as ever. It's quite a story, and Radosh captures well the times and personalities of his journey. Some may find his brush too broad. Others will admire the courage of his journey. All will acknowledge that he both entertains and engages in this unusual, heartfelt memoir. (June 1)

Forecast:Readers who enjoyed David Horowitz's similar trajectory in Radical Son will appreciate Radosh's volume. The author will be signing books on June 1 and 2 at BEA, after which he will make stops in Washington, D.C.; Madison, Wis.; New York City and San Francisco. Supported by a $40,000 marketing budget, this book will draw media attention and should sell well.