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The Lost Revolution: Germany 1918-1923 Paperback – September 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1931859080 ISBN-10: 1931859086

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931859086
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931859080
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,326,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M. Johnson on April 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
For some time I had been looking for a book on this specific subject: the failed German Revolution. This book did an adequate job in telling the story. However, I think it is important that people understand what it is they are buying. This book is not an objective account of the revolutionary upheavals of 1918-1923 in Germany. It is written by a socialist who declares at the start of the book where his sympathies lie. Being somewhat in agreement with the author, this did not bother me that much. Fair warning to readers: this book has a bias. It is nice that the author takes the time to state what his beliefs were and that he made no apologies for his objectivity (or lack thereof).

That being said, the book is still quite good. The narrative carries the story along reasonably well and Harman's writing is decent. There are lots of helpful quotes from the memoirs of participants and other primary sources. The author details he situation prior to the First World War among German socialists and charts the development of the SPD, KPD, USP, etc.

My one major qualm is with the author's thesis. He asserts that had there been a well-developed revolutionary party of the proletariat (ie a Communist Party) before the end of the War, the revolutionaries would have been successful. The lack of experienced cadres, the constant factionalism and "ultra-leftism" were responsible for the failure of the revolution. However, he also castigates Stalin and the insurgent "bureaucratism" within the Comintern. He fails to explain how a professional revolutionary party (as the Bolsheviks had been), had it been successful in Germany, would have avoided this same problem.

All of this aside, the story of Germany in 1918-1923 is fascinating.
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By Adil on May 6, 2014
Format: Paperback
Obviously this is not simply a dry objective textbook on the topic. The author is quite clear that this is intended to show the revolutionary potential of the time and provide a critical analysis for those who wish it succeeded. Regardless, it is a thorough look at the development of the class struggle in Germany from 1918-23 and how events both shaped the revolutionary situation and were deeply shaped by it. This book is essential to understanding the German revolution, the Weimar Republic, the SPD, and revolutionary theory in general. If you are interested in any of these topics or like to study politics through history, you should absolutely read this book.
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on January 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
A proper perspective on the question of the failed German revolutionary socialist opportunities starting in 1918 after the debacle of German defeat in World War I, the overthrow of the Kaiser and the establishment of a democratic republic until 1923 with the failure of the revolutionary opportunities resulting from the French reparations crisis is the subject of on-going controversy among revolutionaries. At the time most European revolutionaries, especially the Russians, placed their strategic aspirations on the success of those efforts in Germany. A different outcome during that period, with the establishment of a German Workers Republic, would have changed the course of world history in many ways, not the least of which would have been the probable saving of the isolated Russian socialist revolution and defeating German fascism in the embryo.

Since then, beginning with the Trotsky-led Russian Left Opposition in 1923 and later the International Left Opposition, revolutionaries as well as others have cut their teeth on developing an analysis of the failure of revolutionary leadership as a primary cause for that aborted German revolution. Against that well-known analysis, more recently a whole cottage industry has developed, particularly around the British journal Revolutionary History, giving encouragement to latter day hand wringing about the prospects (or lack of prospects) at that time and drawing the lesson that a revolution in Germany then could not have happened. To buttress that argument the writings on the prospects of the 1923 revolution by August Thalheimer, a central theoretician and key adviser to party leader Brandler in this period, have been warmly resurrected and particularly boosted. This kind of analysis, however, gets revolutionaries nowhere.
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