John Reed (journalist)

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John Silas "Jack" Reed (October 22, 1887 – October 17, 1920) was an American journalist, poet, and socialist activist, best remembered for Ten Days That Shook the World, his first-hand account of the Bolshevik Revolution.



Ten Days that Shook the World. 2006 Dover Press edition.

A native of Oregon, John Reed made New York City the base of his operations.
Armed soldiers carry a banner reading 'Communism', Nikolskaya street, Moscow, October 1917
  • This book is a slice of intensified history - history as I saw it. It does not pretend to be anything but a detailed account of the November Revolution, when the Bolsheviki, at the head of the workers and soldiers, seized the sate power of Russia and placed it in the hands of the Soviets.
    • Preface, opening
  • Instead of being a destructive force, it seems tome that the Bolsheviki were the only party in Russia with a constructive program and the power to impose it on the country. If they had not succeeded to the Government when they did, there is little doubt in my mind that the armies of Imperial Germany would have been in Petrograd and Moscow in December, and Russia would again be ridden by a Tsar.
    • Preface
  • No matter what one thinks of Bolshevism, it is undeniable that the Russian Revolution s one of the great events of human history, and the rise of the Bolsheviki a phenomenon of worldwide importance.
    • Preface
  • In the struggle my sympathies were not neutral. But in telling the story of those great day I have tried to see events with the eye of a conscientious reporter, interested insetting down the truth.
    • Preface
  • So, with the crash of artillery, in the dark, with hatred, and fear, and reckless daring, new Russia was being born.
  • I suddenly realized that the devout Russian people no longer needed priests to pray them into heaven. On earth they were building a kingdom more bright than any heaven had to offer, and for which it was a glory to die….
  • Carlyle, in his French Revolution, has described the French people as distinguished above all others by their faculty of standing in queue. Russia had accustomed herself to the practice, begun in the reign of Nicholas the Blessed as long ago as 1915, and from then continued intermittently until the summer of 1917, when it settled down as the regular order of things.
  • The ladies of the minor bureaucratic set took tea with each other in the afternoon, carrying each her little gold or silver or jewelled sugar-box, and half a loaf of bread in her muff, and wished that the Tsar were back, or that the Germans would come, or anything that would solve the servant problem…. The daughter of a friend of mine came home one afternoon in hysterics because the woman street-car conductor had called her "Comrade!
  • A soldier was speaking - from the Five Hundred and Forty-eight Division, wherever and whatever that was: "Comrades," he cried, and there was real anguish in his drawn face and despairing gestures. "The people at the top are always calling upon us to sacrifice more, sacrifice, while those who have everything are left unmolested. We are at war with Germany. Would we invite German generals to serve on our Staff? Well we're at war with the capitalists too, and yet we invite them into our Government..."
    • Ch. 1, p. 19
  • When the land belongs to the peasants, and the factories to the workers, and the power to the Soviets, then we'll know we have something to fight for, and we'll fight for it!"
  • Ch.1, p.19

Quotes about John Reed

  • I was probably the only person with whom she (Louise Bryant) talked freely and bitterly of Jack's experiences in Russia and his disillusion. She was convinced that this disillusion had robbed him of that will to live which might have saved his life.
  • Sad news clouded our joy. In a Soviet paper we read of the death of John Reed. Both Sasha and I had been very fond of Jack and we felt his demise as a personal loss.
  • John Reed had burst into my room like a sudden ray of light, the old buoyant, adventurous Jack that I used to know in the States. He was about to return to America, by way of Latvia. Rather a hazardous journey, he said, but he would take even greater risks to bring the inspiring message of Soviet Russia to his native land. "Wonderful, marvellous, isn't it, E.G.?" he exclaimed. "Your dream of years now realized in Russia, your dream scorned and persecuted in my country, but made real by the magic wand of Lenin and his band of despised Bolsheviks. Did you ever expect such a thing to happen in the country ruled by the tsars for centuries?" "Not by Lenin and his comrades, dear Jack," I corrected, "though I do not deny their great part. But by the whole Russian people, preceded by a glorious revolutionary past. No other land of our days has been so literally nurtured by the blood of her martyrs, a long procession of pioneers who went to their death that new life may spring from their graves." Jack insisted that the young generation cannot for ever be tied to the apron-strings of the old, particularly when those strings are tightly drawn around its throat. "Look at your old pioneers, the Breshkovskayas and Tchaikovskys, the Chernovs and Kerenskys and the rest of them," he cried heatedly; "see where they are now! With the Black Hundreds, the Jew-baiters, and the ducal clique, aiding them to crush the Revolution. I don't give a damn for their past. I am concerned only in what the treacherous gang has been doing during the past three years. To the wall with them! I say. I have learned one mighty expressive Russian word, 'razstrellyat'!" (execute by shooting).
  • For a brief time, roughly between 1912 and 1918, The Masses became the rallying center-as sometimes also a combination of circus, nursery, and boxing ring-for almost everything that was then alive and irreverent in American culture. In its pages you could find brilliant artists and cartoonists, like John Sloan, Stuart Davis, and Art Young; one of the best journalists in our history, John Reed (journalist), a writer full of an indignation against American injustice that was itself utterly American; a shrewd and caustic propagandist like Max Eastman; some gifted writers of fiction, like Sherwood Anderson; and one of the few serious theoretical minds American socialism has produced, William English Walling. All joined in a rumpus of revolt, tearing to shreds the genteel tradition that had been dominant in American culture, poking fun at moral prudishness and literary timidity, mocking the deceits of bourgeois individualism, and preaching a peculiarly uncomplicated version of the class struggle. There has never been, and probably never will again be, another radical magazine in the U. S. quite like The Masses, with its slapdash gathering of energy, youth, hope.
    • Irving Howe Introduction to Echoes of Revolt: The Masses, 1911-1917 by William L. O'Neill (1989)
  • As one looks back across the shambles of the intervening decades, it is hard not to envy them: the fierce young Reed making his prose into a lyric of revolt, the handsome young Eastman mediating among a raucus of opinions, the cherubic Art Young drawing his revolutionary cartoons with the other worldly aplomb of a Bronson Alcott. History cannot be recalled, but in this instance at least, nostalgia seems a part of realism. For who among us, if enabled by some feat of imagination, would not change places with the men of The Masses in their days of glory?
    • Irving Howe Introduction to Echoes of Revolt: The Masses, 1911-1917 by William L. O'Neill (1989)
  • One explanation for the neglect of women's part in shaping The Masses and its content may lie in an image of the magazine constructed by its chroniclers. Indeed, the extent to which historians have neglected discussion of Masses women is quite remarkable. Daniel Aaron, in his Writers on the Left (1961), devotes some twenty pages to The Masses. He deals with [[Max Eastman, Floyd Dell, and Reed at considerable length, while mentioning the founding members Inez Haynes Irwin and Mary Heaton Vorse in a single line...More recent histories redress the balance somewhat-notably Judith Schwartz's study of women of the Greenwich Village Heterodoxy club, many of whose members had ties with The Masses, and Art for The Masses, Rebecca Zurier's 1987 anthology of the work of Masses artists. Nancy Cott's frequent allusions to Masses women in The Grounding of Modern Feminism (1987) indicate how very central to that grounding, to the shaping of turn-of-the-century feminist discourse, Masses women were. But in many imaginations, The Masses remains the project of Max Eastman, Floyd Dell, John Reed, Art Young, and Charles Winter.
    • Margaret C. Jones Heretics and Hellraisers: Women Contributors to The Masses, 1911-1917 (1993)
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