John Reed: Radical Journalist, 1887–1920
Kenneth Z. Chutchian
John Reed was one of America’s most dynamic journalists during the World War I decade. An unabashed advocate for the working class and an outspoken critic of capitalism, Reed was a star reporter before his relentless crusade turned him into a target of the U.S. government. Reed set the standard for descriptive writing at labor strikes in New Jersey and Colorado, in Mexico while riding with Pancho Villa, in Germany’s trenches, and in Russia. America had no shortage of rebels, socialists, anarchists and revolutionaries at that time—but with his outsized personality and command of language and audiences, Reed may have been the most dangerous rebel of them all.
Neither adversaries nor allies expected Reed to go the distance (or to Russia) with his convictions. He seemed to enjoy life and merriment too much to sacrifice everything for a second American revolution. But they all underestimated the anger that fueled him, the memory of a father who sacrificed his reputation to fight white-collar crime. This career biography details Reed’s extraordinary decade before his death at age 32—a chaotic period of constant movement and remarkable accomplishment—while placing him in context among those who shaped him and touching upon the people with whom he worked.