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Canadian Bolsheviks:
Comments and Reviews

Pathbreaking ... strikingly relevant
Barry Weisleder, Socialist Action, February 2005:  Canadian Bolsheviks describes and explains the first attempt to build a Leninist Party on Canadian soil, showing why it succeeded so well at first, and why it ultimately failed. This path-breaking work, originally published in 1981, has been out of print for some time. It is well researched and easy to read, packed with clearly drawn political lessons focusing on the period 1919 through1930. Its discussion of key strategic and tactical issues, including independent labour political action, electoral policy, the united front, class struggle unionism versus ‘red’ unionism, are strikingly relevant to the problems faced by socialists in the modern workers’ movement. Well summarized conclusions at the end of each chapter are a superb aid, encouraging the use of the book as a study and teaching guide for political activists.

Filled an enormous gap
Dale McCartney, Seven Oaks Magazine, Nov. 9, 2004: "For the left in Canada, there are only a handful of quality histories widely available and written in an engaging style. Thankfully, this month the reissue of Canadian Bolsheviks, by Ian Angus, makes the list one title longer.... When the book was first published, it filled an enormous gap in Canadian historiography, discussing a period and a group of people who had received far less attention than their place in Canadian history deserved." (Read the full review)

An underground classic … an indispensable guide
Professor Ian McKay, Department of History, Queen’s University: "Canadian Bolsheviks has long been an underground classic among historians of the Canadian left, an indispensable guide to the theoretical debates and tactical divisions that marked the first dozen years of Communism in Canada. It belongs on the bookshelf of everyone interested in the history of the left in Canada.”

An important contribution … confronts the accepted wisdom
Professor Mark Leier, Department of History, Simon Fraser University: “Canadian Bolsheviks is an important contribution to social, political, and intellectual history and has long deserved to be re-issued. Ian Angus confronts the accepted wisdom of the left and the right with thorough research, thoughtful arguments, and an obvious love for his subject. He pushes us to rethink the Canadian labour and left-wing movements and makes it clear that history – good history -- is about debate and ethical deliberation, not conformity and dogma. The book is a sharp reminder that history is not over and that the future is still up for grabs. There is no more important lesson for historians and activists.”

A stunning revision … required reading
Professor Bryan D. Palmer, Canada Research Chair, Trent University
: “More than 20 years ago Ian Angus produced a stunning revision of the early history of Canadian communism. Unlike previous treatments, he addressed the Stalinization of Canada's particular Party of revolutionary socialism. In particular, Angus drew attention to the purposeful construction of a mythology overemphasizing the significance of Tim Buck, one of the world's longest-standing Stalinist Party heads. The book is required reading for anyone seriously interested in the history of communism in Canada, but has long been out of print. A new edition makes Angus's research and argument accessible again, and it should play an important role in revitalizing interest in the academic and political history of the Canadian revolutionary left.”

Reviews of the First Edition ...

  • William Rodney in the Globe & Mail: Canadian Bolsheviks is a book that cannot be overlooked by anyone interested in Canadian labour history and the part played in its development by Canadian Communists. It is a story too little known, and Angus, to his credit, has done much to rectify that imbalance.” (William Rodney is the author of Soldiers of the International) [Read the Full Review]

  • Bryan D. Palmer in Labour/Le Travail:  “Canadian Bolsheviks demands attention from all of those professing interest in the history and nature of Canadian communism.” (Bryan Palmer is Senior Canada Research Chair in Canadian Studies at Trent University)

  • Irving Abella in Canadian Dimension: “His description of the origin and growth of the Communist Party in the 1920s is the best yet to appear. He tells us much that was not widely known before, and describes in great detail the internecine struggles that were a hallmark of the party’s first decade of existence.” (Irving Abella is Shiff Professor of History at York University) [Read the Full Review]

  • Desmond Morton in Histoire Sociale/Social History:  “Even those with little ideological engagement in the factional struggles of half a century ago must concede that Angus has performed a service. Readers of the forthcoming official history of the Communist Party of Canada will now be much better equipped for that heavy task if they keep a copy of Canadian Bolsheviks by their side.” (Desmond Morton is director of the Institute for the Study of Canada, McGill University) [Read the Full Review]

  • James Dyer in the Vancouver Sun: “[Ian] Angus’s most interesting and valuable account of the beginnings of the Communist Party of Canada …. Angus’s denunciation of the [Tim Buck] myth deserves consideration because of the voluminous documentation he brings to it.”

  • Brian McDonald in Socialist Worker:  “Deserves to be read by every serious Marxist … a long overdue and invaluable account of the first and most important years of the CPC … Angus has given revolutionary socialists an important base for more detailed investigation of our tradition.”

  • Alan Twigg in The Magazine: “[a] coherent and groundbreaking foray into the field of Canadian political history.”

  • John Knowles in The Peak: “Highly detailed and packed with excerpts from original sources that transmit the enthusiasm of the early bolshevik revolutionaries and the hypocrisy of the Stalinists… Canadian Bolsheviks gives a clear understanding of the present moribund state of the Communist Party of Canada.”

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