World Revolution by C.L.R. James

Out now in time for the centenary of the Russian Revolution as part of the C.L.R. James Archives series with Duke University Press…


World Revolution, 1917-1936: The Rise and Fall of the Communist International

by C.L.R. James 

Originally published in 1937, C. L. R. James’s World Revolution is a pioneering Marxist analysis of the history of revolutions during the interwar period and of the fundamental conflict between Trotsky and Stalin. James, who was a leading Trotskyist activist in Britain, outlines Russia’s transition from communist revolution to a Stalinist totalitarian state bureaucracy. He also provides an account of the ideological contestations within the Communist International while examining its influence on the development of the Soviet Union and its changing role in revolutions in Spain, China, Germany, and central Europe. Published to commemorate the centenary of the Russian Revolution, this definitive edition of World Revolution features a new introduction by Christian Høgsbjerg and includes rare archival material, selected contemporary reviews, and extracts from James’s 1939 interview with Trotsky.


“This incisive and wide-ranging work by the Trinidadian Marxist, C. L. R. James, was one of the first analyses of the rise of Stalin’s tyranny and the subordination of the needs of the international communist movement to the needs of the Soviet state. Christian Høgsbjerg provides a marvelous introduction to James’s life and to the political context in which he wrote this remarkable work.”
— S. A. Smith, author of Revolution and the People in Russia and China: A Comparative History

“Published in 1937, close to the ‘Midnight in the Century’ when Hitler and Stalin dominated global politics, C. L. R. James’s World Revolution affirms the actuality of Marxism even as it confronts the degeneration of the Russian Revolution of October 1917. In telling the story of the advance and retreat of the great revolutionary wave at the end of the First World War, James displays his qualities as a theorist, historian, and writer. This new edition includes an invaluable introduction by Christian Høgsbjerg that sets World Revolution in its place in the politics of the British left in the 1930s and in James’s own rich intellectual development.”
— Alex Callinicos, author of The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx

Reviews of the new edition

”The republishing of this key work by one of the 20th century’s most important Marxist thinkers is very welcome … James provided the first ever history and systematic analysis of the Communist International and a searing indictment of the crimes of Stalinism … World Revolution is a key part of the revolutionary Marxist tradition and well worth reading today.”
Tony Phillips, Socialist Review, 429 (November 2017).


Praise for the original 1937 edition of World Revolution:

“a very good book” – Leon Trotsky, 1939

 “[a] very able book”- George Orwell, 1937

“decidedly useful … in his analysis of the course of the Russian revolution and of the point at which it took the wrong turning, Mr. James displays commendable independence of judgment and desire to arrive at the truth” – E.H. Carr, 1937

The new introduction is available to read online here:

You can also get a 30% discount on the paperback edition if you go to: and enter coupon code E17CLRJ during checkout

Book Launches:

Friday 13 October – Institute for Black Atlantic Research, University of Central Lancashire, Preston – as part of The Red and the Black: The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic conference.

Friday 10 November – Historical Materialism conference, SOAS, London

Monday 13 November – London Socialist Historians Group seminar, 5.30pm, Institute for Historical Research – see here