Lost World of British Communism

Raphael Samuel left the CPGB in 1956, but maintained a kind of affection, even admiration towards it. His essays on the Party’s history, originally published in New Left Review between 1985 and 1987, have been collected here to mark the tenth anniversary of his death; they provide an unparalleled insider account of the Party at the height of its theoretical power and influence in the 1940s.

Eric Hobsbawm writes:

In Raphael Samuel’s The Lost World of British Communism, which is full of melancholy empathy for an irrecoverable past, Communism is seen as ‘a doomed, flawed but noble faith’. But Samuel did not write his now reissued book until the 1980s, and then as an unhappy commentary on the disintegration of the Party he had left behind thirty years earlier. In fact, the disintegration of the movement has made possible the current flood of memoir, autobiography and prosopographical research. The Lost World of British Communism is the most attractive of the books on life and memory, a (characteristically uncompleted) memorial to its author’s questioning and passionate intellect.

(LRB 26 April 2007)

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