If there was any doubt that Randolph Bourne was one of the men of moral and intellectual stature of our century, this book should dispel it. It is a full, resourceful, and balanced account of a first-rate mind. In his Crusaders For American Liberalism, Louis Filler has shown that he can handle the impact of ideas upon the social setting that produced them. He shows here that he can also, with skill and judgment, trace the unfolding of a single mind and personality within that setting.
It is twenty-five years since Randolph Bourne died--at the age of thirty-two. Were he alive now, he would still be this side of sixty, and there are many men now active in American life who knew him and worked with him. His life is thus, in a sense, a contemporary theme. Yet the whole matrix in which it was lived a quarter century ago --the feverish years preceding and during World War I-- gives it a quality of distance beyond the actual chronology.
For Bourne's life, crowded into so few years, seems but a moment in the span of history: yet it had, in the Bergsonian sense, duration. Men like Theodore Roosevelt might talk of the "strenuous life" in physical and extraverted terms. Bourne, deformed as he was in body, lived the strenuous life in emotional, intellectual, and moral terms. He lived dangerously. This study is therefore packed with a kind of . . .