“Before I knew that I was Jewish or a girl I knew that I was a member of the working class.” So begins Vivian Gornick’s exploration of how the world of socialists, communists, and progressives in the 1940s and 1950s created a rich, diverse world where ordinary men and women felt their lives connected to a larger human project.
Now back in print after its initial publication in 1977 and with a new introduction by the author, The Romance of American Communism is a landmark work of new journalism, profiling American Communist Party members and fellow travelers as they joined the Party, lived within its orbit, and left in disillusionment and disappointment as Stalin’s crimes became public.
From the immigrant Jewish enclaves of the Bronx and Brooklyn and the docks of Puget Sound to the mining towns of Kentucky and the suburbs of Cleveland, over a million Americans found a sense of belonging and an expanded sense of self through collective struggle. They also found social isolation, blacklisting, imprisonment, and shattered hopes. This is their story--an indisputably American story.