When, in 1938, I made my first literary contribution to the history of non-Russian communism, I was conscious of ploughing virgin soil. I could then assume that most of the things I had to say, although well known to the small group of people interested in communist history, would be novel to the general public. To-day, the situation is radically changed. Some aspects of communist history have been covered by first-rate monographs, such as Angelo Rossi's two masterpieces on the history of French communism during the first half of the war. Others have been treated in interesting memoirs, among which we find such a fine piece of narrative and analysis as J. Amery's story of his activities as a British liaison officer in Albania, and J. Soustelle's story of his silent struggle with the French communists at Algiers. Some of the issues, such as Tito's rise, have produced a large controversial literature. And new monographs, new memoirs, new documents (such as M. Pijade's invaluable collection of the correspondence between Tito and Stalin in 1942) are constantly appearing.
It would be no more than common prudence to keep out of a field which has in part been covered by actors on the political stage with whom the armchair student cannot compete, and is in part producing, in rapid succession, new pieces of evidence which are bound to alter the picture. If I have nevertheless undertaken to write this book, it is because a large number of friends have urgently impressed upon me the need for a comprehensive presentation of a larger whole. My history of the Communist International is out of print and difficult to obtain. Moreover, it only covers fully the twenties (and quite superficially part of the thirties), a period long left behind. It is entirely for practical purposes that I have written the present book. The circle of those engaged in work concerning communism has widened out of all proportion during the last two decades, and they have a right to be provided with a general survey of this kind, since it is impossible for the politician, the diplomat, the journalist, the intelligence officer and, last but not least, for the student of social and politi