Workers Before and After Lenin

By Manya Gordon

DUTTON, $4.00

THIS is a factual, as opposed to a wish-thinking, book about the much discussed Soviet Union. The author, herself of Russian origin, although a resident of America for many years, undertakes the ambitious project of comparing the social and economic conditions of the Russian masses before and since the Bolshevik Revolution. She plunges gallantly into masses of pre-war and post-war Russian statistical material and probably gives as reliable answers to the questions which she poses as anyone would be able to find. She shows that, while paper-money wages in the Soviet industries are ten times the pre-war figure, prices of essential foodstuffs are fifteen times as high. The price relation as regards clothing is even worse from the standpoint of the present régime; and in deflating Soviet statistics she makes the valuable point that pre-war Russia, especially in the small towns and villages, was largely clothed by little independent tailors, shoemakers, and other artisans who have now been completely liquidated. The style is a little heavy and the author is rather too optimistic about the existence of a conscious revolutionary movement against Stalin at the present time. But these are minor detects in a work that is likely to stand as the best piece of solid research in its important and interesting field for a long time to come. W. H. W.