Books for changing the world
The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution
The story of how China's modern development rests on the tragically supressed struggle for true socialism.

The story of contemporary China typically dates back to Mao’s 1949 revolution. But in this classic work of Marxist scholarship, historian Harold Isaacs uncovers how workers and peasants struggled for a different kind of revolution, one built from the bottom up, in the 1920s. The defeat of their heroic efforts profoundly shaped the further course of modern Chinese history.

Harold Isaacs was an acclaimed Marxist historian who identified with Leon Trotsky’s critique of the Soviet Union’s degeneration under Stalinism during the 1920s. The Tragedy, his major work, is dedicated to the “martyrs” of the 1925-1927 revolution, who fought for a truly democratic society.

  • "This is an excellent narrative: it is clear, exciting, and well-balanced in evidence and interpretation. Isaacs provides a detailed yet highly digestible account of the 1925-27 revolution, its roots, and its consequences. The book...successfully counters the tendency for the 1949 divide to "flatten[s] the jagged course of history into an uninformative curve that hides from us too much of the meaning of both past and present" Sigrid Schmalzer, Assistant Professor of History University of Massachusetts, Amherst