First published in 1914, Insurgent Mexico has been out of print for many years and is almost entirely unknown to present day readers. Toward the end of 1913 John Reed was sent to cover the revolution in Mexico by Metropolitan, a widely read magazine whose writers included the leading muckrakers and reformers of the time. He was also commissioned as a correspondent by the New York World. Then twenty-six years of age, Reed had already won some fame as a journalist, having earlier that year reported the fierce silk workers strike in Paterson, New Jersey, led by the I.W.W. He was so impressed by his experiences during the strike that he resigned his post as subeditor of the American Magazine and wrote and staged a pageant in the old Madison Square Garden in New York, recreating the scene at Paterson, with the participation of 1,200 strikers.
Reed's articles from Mexico established him among the top journalists of his day. Insurgent Mexico, his first published book, included episodes which had appeared in the Metropolitan. Later, in a brief autobiographical essay, he referred to his days in Mexico as "the most satisfactory period of my life." On his return from Mexico in April 1914, Reed went to Ludlow, Colorado, to cover the miners' strike which the Rockefeller interests tried to drown in blood. He was then sent by Metropolitan in the summer of the same year to report the Western Front in Europe and, the following year, to the Eastern Front. He considered the first world conflict a "traders' war" and strongly opposed United States intervention. For this reason his writings were no longer sought by the established magazines, and when he went to Petrograd in September 1917 he came as a reporter for the New York Call and other socialist publications. He went on to write