The World on Fire: 1919 and the Battle with Bolshevism

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9780393061246: The World on Fire: 1919 and the Battle with Bolshevism

“We are running a race with Bolshevism and the world is on fire.”?President Woodrow Wilson, 1919

While the Western leaders were hammering out a peace treaty in Paris to end the Great War, a new war had already begun. Bolshevism?the creed of the Russian Revolution?had burst on the scene in 1917 and seared itself into the world’s consciousness even faster than al-Qaeda would some eighty years later. The Allied powers tried to destroy it at its source by intervening, controversially and unsuccessfully, in the civil war in Russia. Elsewhere there were bloody revolutions and bloodier counterrevolutions in Germany, Hungary, and the Baltic States; massive strikes and civil unrest broke out in Britain, Western Europe, and in both North and South America. In the United States, a series of terrorist bombings created a wave of hysteria, later labeled the Great Red Scare, that threatened the very foundations of a free and democratic society. This book chronicles and examines the running battle with terror during the most revolutionary year since 1789.

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About the Author:

Anthony Read is the author of many books, most recently The Devil’s Disciples: Hitler’s Inner Circle. He lives in England.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. Read (The Devil's Disciples: Hitler's Inner Circle) offers a lucid, gripping history of how the leaders of Western democracies reacted to the Russian revolution. Bolsheviks made clear their intention to unleash a worldwide revolution, and Churchill and others feared similar uprisings on their own soil. On December 30, 1918, bombs exploded at the houses of prominent Philadelphia businessmen and civic leaders. Fearing this was a Bolshevik attack, Philadelphians warned that other cities might come under the radicals' fire next. In Britain, unemployment was on the rise and worker morale was plummeting. Strikes rocked cities from Glasgow to Seattle. When workers and peasants in Spain began organizing, local estate owners blamed Red Russia, as did foreign journalists, like the French correspondent who opined that [a] wave of Bolshevism is passing over Andalusia. That spring also saw a spike in American panic about radicalism—when an alert postal worker barely managed to avert mailing out more than a dozen bombs in New York, everyone noticed that the bombs would have arrived around May Day. This sweeping, brilliant history, which travels from Turin, Italy, to Winnipeg, Canada, makes one crucial year in the history of global politics and labor come alive and has obvious resonance with the present moment. 16 pages of illus. (Mar.)
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