23 JULY 1937, Page 32


Mr. Foster's title well describes his book. He could -have written an auto- biography of great interest and real value, but he has been content to inter- mingle scraps of his own story with an account of the American labour move- ment beginning with the great upheavals of the 'nineties and passing through the heyday of the I.W.W. to the rise of. orthodox communism. A great deal of his book (Lawrence and Wishart, 8s. 6d.) will be unintelligible to the reader who has not the general outlines of recent American labour history clearly in his head, but a reader who has will find a good deal of raw material for history in this book. The account of the trans- formation of the too exotic, too doc- trinaire party of zealots into ihe present officially truly American party that has Moscow's blessing is too brief to be more than a whet to the appetite ;"but it is a decided whet all the same. Whether a full meal can be provided as long as the infallibility of the Comintern is insisted on is another matter. There are many potential readers whose tastes have been corrupted by bourgeois scepticism who will wonder a little at the tone of much of this book. Mr. Foster's mother was a devout Catholic and, were she alive, she might reasonably suspect that her son had transferred his Irish equipment of faith from Rome to Moscow. The English reader will not realise, for instance, how significant if

not important the various splits in the party have been. And he will not fully understand the implications of the policy followed last year of giving broad hints to the workers to vote for Roosevelt to keep Landon 'out. It may have been a wise policy,13ut it was a shock to some zealots who - had inconveniently good

memories.- Witten last year, this book is already out of date as far as the activities of the C.I.O. 'are concerned. .