It Had to Be Revolution: Memoirs of an American Radical


Frank Seaman, Jesus Ramirez, Manuel Gomez. Student activist, draft resister, political refugee, delegate to the Moscow Comintern congress, underground organizer, railroad executive, investment columnist for The Wall Street Journal. The man who was born Charles Francis Phillips in 1895 and died Charles Shipman in 1989 was all of these. In this robust memoir, Shipman gives us an incomparable view of modern history from the inner circles of the Communist movement. An unruly boy in a middle-class family, Shipman chose revolution from the start. From his undergraduate days at Columbia he pursued a career of activism that led through a complex - and at times dangerous - series of double lives. During the 1920s, Shipman tirelessly supported the Bolshevik call for an international social revolution and the liberation of colonial peoples; and as a founding member of the Mexican Communist Party, he encountered face-to-face many of the most important figures of the left. Shipman offers pithy portraits of anarray of writers, artists, comrades, and friends including Dorothy Day, Walter Lippmann, and Bertolt Brecht, as well as Lenin, Zinoviev, and Michael Borodin. After Stalin assumed power in the USSR, Shipman's enthusiasm for the Party ebbed, and he chronicles his gradual withdrawal from American communism. But interwoven with the drama of Shipman's political odyssey is another story: his personal struggle to come to terms with elusive questions of ethnic identity, friendship, parenthood, and love. Including nineteen evocative illustrations, It Had to Be Revolution documents the early years of the American and international left from the perspective of a man who was as successful at the frontlines of communism as he was within the boardrooms of capitalism - and who preserved the commitments of his youth throughout his remarkable life.

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