San Francisco Reds

Communists in the Bay Area, 1919-1958
Author: Robert W. Cherny
A city’s Communist Party as revealed through the lives of its members
Cloth – $125
Paper – $30
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 05/07/2024
Cloth: 05/07/2024
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About the Book

Founded in 1919, the Communist Party (CP) in San Francisco survived an ineffectual early period to become a force in the trade union heyday of the 1930s. Robert Cherny uses the lives and careers of more than fifty members to tell the story of the city’s CP from its founding through 1958.

Cherny draws on FBI files, the records of the CP at the Russian State Archive for Social and Political History, interviews, and memoirs to follow male and female party and union leaders, rank-and-file members, and others. His history reveals why people joined the CP while charting the frequent changes in policy, constant member turnover, and disruptive factionalism that limited party aims and successes. Cherny also follows his subjects through their resignations, expulsions, or other reasons for departure and looks at the CP’s influence on their lives in subsequent years.

Vivid and exhaustively researched, San Francisco Reds is a long view account of the personal motivations and activism of an Old Left generation in a West Coast city.

About the Author

Robert W. Cherny is a professor emeritus of history at San Francisco State University. His many books include Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Legend and Victor Arnautoff and the Politics of Art.

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“A new and important work--no one has attempted such a full assessment on the topic. An excellent addition to the literature on both the American Communist Party and the history of California.”--Katherine A. S. Sibley, author of Red Spies in America: Stolen Secrets and the Dawn of the Cold War