Lenin: A Biography, by David Shub (Doubleday and Company; $5). I’ll Never Go Back: A Red Army Officer Talks Back, by Mikhail Koriakov (E. P. Dutton; $3). Tell the West, by Jerzy Gliksman (The Gresham Press; $3.75). Of these three books, only one, David Shub’s biography of Lenin, is a useful contribution to an understanding of Russia and the Russians. The other two are not unfamiliar specimens. Each is an undocumented, uncorroborated narrative of harrowing personal experiences in the Soviet Union. Neither has any particular literary, autobiographical or historical merit.
Vienna Vienna is celebrating the centennial of 1848, and a magnificent exhibit at the Rathaus vividly portrays the last time the city rose in revolt. The exhibit makes hunger an equal partner with the desire for liberty, as the inspiration of the revolution. The same reasons are behind Vienna’s present growing revolt against continued occupation. This year’s occupation costs are fixed at $60 million, 10 percent of the entire state budget.
Like the older Republicans and Democrats, the young third party is more than mass meetings and platform speeches. It also has top strategists and potent local leaders whose differences must be reconciled off-stage: C. B. “Beanie” Baldwin, with one important difference, stands in the same relationship to Henry Wallace as Jim Farley did to FDR at the beginning of their political alliance. The difference is important in explaining much about the Wallace campaign. Farley came to his task ripe in political experience and rather disinterested in the ideas his candidate was to stand for.
Third parties are one test of the vitality of the American people. They test the capacity of Americans to restore to life our two-party system when one of the major parties ceases to function as a vital force. The origin of the New Party lay in the recent failure of the Democratic Party to lead. In wartime, party government was abandoned in favor of national government by President Roosevelt. After the war, the Democratic Party lacked the vitality to reassert its liberal leadership.
The reports of the Democratic Party’s death, prevalent before the Philadelphia convention, appear now to have been somewhat exaggerated. A party in which the rank-and-file majority get their way on such a risky issue as civil rights against the opposition of their masters, is obviously not yet ready for embalming. The Democrats came to Philadelphia as low in their minds as the Republicans were when they assembled for the Landon convention in 1936. There was not a hopeful delegate in a carload. They were licked, most of them thought, probably for eight years.
It is singular testimony to the times that no one in Italy is praying more ardently for Palmiro Togliatti’s recovery than his own worst enemies. There is no doubting the sincerity of Prime Minister Alcide de Gasperi’s anguished cry that the attempted assassination of the Communist leaders was “the worst thing that could have happened.” Togliatti alive in Italy as the competent leader of a lacerated Left opposition, was high in the esteem of his followers but tainted with the stains of their recent defeat. Togliatti dead, murdered, would be invulnerable.
Oliver La Fargo, foremost authority on the American Indian, says that “our greatest tribe, the 60,000 Navajos, is locked by illiteracy and endemic disease into a desert reservation which can hardly support half that number.” Their condition is so grave that Congress is now “considering” a program to help them. Meanwhile the Navajos continue to suffer. A young nurse, writing under the pseudonym of Susan Roberts, has given the NewRepublic the following impressions based on several months’ duty at a Navajo reservation hospital. Navajo Indian kids are cute as a button.
“A frightful imposition,” Dewey called the proposal for a special session of Congress, indicating his appraisal of both the sincerity of the Republican Party platform and the urgency of the problems which Americans face. In such a spirit Dewey can lose the 1948 elections. Tor Truman’s call for a special session is a stroke of bold and liberal leadership and a confident reassertion of the Validity of American democracy. On three key issues, housing, inflation and civil rights, the 80th Congress so far failed utterly.
Policy, Not Tactics, Needed in Berlin The real issue of the Berlin crisis has now become clear.
Harry Truman may not have given his party victory at Philadelphia, but he gave it self-respect. It was fun to see the scrappy little cuss come out of his corner fighting at two in the morning, not trying to use big words any longer, but being himself and saying a lot of honest things that needed to be said. Unaccountably, we found ourself on top of a pine bench cheering. We have always thought of Truman as Mr. Average Man himself, nice and likable and commonplace and mediocre. These attributes make something of a problem when one is President.