The Last Revolutionaries: German Communists and Their Century
Drawing on previously inaccessible sources as well as extensive
personal interviews, Epstein offers a portrait of the most enduring
and influential generation of Central European communists. In the
service of their party, these communists experienced solidarity and
betrayal, power and persecution, sacrifice and reward, triumph and
defeat. At once sordid and poignant, theirs is the story of
European communism - from the heroic excitement of its youth, to
the bureaucratic authoritarianism of its middle age, to the sorry
debacle of its death.
Catherine Epstein's "The Last Revolutionaries" is the most comprehensive, deeply researched, and nuanced history 0f the leading German communists in English, and perhaps in German as well. Her use of the East German archives opened in the early 1990s expands our understanding of German communism from the 1920s to 1989, and makes for grim but essential reading. She has captured the illusions but also the engagement and tragedy of the veteran German communists with the balance, thoroughness, and fairness we expect from our best historians.--Jeffrey Herf, author of Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys
CATHERINE EPSTEIN is Assistant Professor of History, Amherst College.