British Communism

A documentary history

Edited by John Callaghan and Ben Harker

British Communism


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8211-5
  • Pages: 312
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: November 2011
  • BIC Category: United Kingdom, Great Britain, Marxism & Communism, European history, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Communism, Post-Communism & Socialism, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Society & social sciences / Marxism & Communism, Humanities / British & Irish history, History, Modern History
  • Series: Documents in Modern History


Wide-ranging and richly researched, this is the first sourcebook to reconstruct the tumultuous history of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Drawing together over one hundred and fifty documents-including party statements, press releases, published correspondence, reviews, poems, cartoons and articles-it presents a detailed portrait of the party, its abiding concerns and its many contradictions from the 1920s to the 1980s. It samples voices from the full spectrum of the party's diverse personnel, from longstanding party leaders (Harry Pollitt, Rajani Palme Dutt), to prominent twentieth-century British intellectuals (E. P. Thompson, Eric Hobsbawm), to significant cultural figures (Jack Lindsay, Alan Bush, A.L. Lloyd).

Balanced, comprehensive and framed by Callaghan and Harker's detailed introductions, British Communism: A documentary history is not only a valuable addition to the historiography of Communism, but to the study of twentieth-century Britain.


An original and useful contribution to the study of the CPGB. Never before has such a wide array of material produced by the party been brought together and made available to the general public. A newcomer to British Communism is thus able not only to gauge the ideological and political distance travelled by the party as expressed in its own words but also to familiarise him/herself with the culture of the party.
Jeremy Tranmer, Cercles - Revue Pluridisciplinaire du Monde Anglophone, 15/11/2012

The work of John Callaghan and Ben Harker is part of the renewed interest in the study of British communism that followed its decline and the opening of the archives of the party.


1. Defining Bolshevism
2. Defending the Soviets
3. The problem of Social Democracy
4. The British empire
5. The new line, 1928-35
6. Popular Front Communism, 1935-39
7. The CPGB 1939-47
8. The national road and the British cultural tradition, 1947-56
9. 1956 and Communist crisis
10. Communists and Trade Unions since 1945
11. The 'new social movements'
12. Things fall apart


John Callaghan is Professor in Politics and Contemporary History at the University of Salford. Ben Harker is Lecturer in Community and Cultural Studies at the University of Salford.

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