Moscow: Kras. nov’, 1923. Item #1407
, 194,  pp.+ 5 pp. of ads. 23x15,5 cm. In original publisher’s wrappers. Good. Fragments of the spine and front cover edges lost, pale water stains on the covers, a private library’s paper sticker on the front cover, a signature on the front cover and the title page. (1923). Ink note on p. : “I. Maisky was a member of the Central Committee of [the Party of] Mensheviks until 1918. He was delisted for being in the ‘Samara [provisional] government’. See his ‘Democratic Counter-Revolution’. M.? 1923.”
Scarce. First edition.
An important book about the foreign policy of the RSFSR written by the outstanding politician, diplomat, scholar, and the Soviet Union’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom (1932 to 1943) Ivan Maisky (1884-1975). Published 2 years after the end of the Russian Civil War, the edition came out against the backdrop of major geopolitical developments.
From 1920, the revolutionary tide in Russia receded and the Bolsheviks found themselves isolated as the world’s only socialist government. It was from about the same time that an increasing degree of attention began to be paid to the colonial revolutions in Asia as a means of redressing the unfavorable balance of forces that the Bolsheviks confronted in Europe. In the early 1920s, Vladimir Lenin provided financial and military support to revolutionary movements in China (the Kuomintang), Turkey (the Kemalists), Persia (the Constitutionalist movement of Gilan), Khanate of Khiva (Young Khivans), Emirate of Bukhara (Young Bukharans), etc. After the October Revolution, the RSFSR also succeeded in establishing diplomatic ties with Mongolia and signing a non-aggression pact with Afghanistan. Against this background, in the early 1920s, the Bolsheviks faced one major counterpart in Asia - Japan - the poor relations with which originated in Japan’s victory over Imperial Russia. During the Russian Civil War, Japan (as a member of the Allied interventionist forces) managed to occupy Vladivostok from 1918 until 1922.
The book consists of six sections: “The Beginning of the Russian Revolution,” “The Struggle of the Revolution for the Right to Exist,” “The Victory of the Russian Revolution,” “Era of World Politics,” “Soviet Policy in the East,” and “Conclusion.” In the edition, the author describes major political events occurring in world politics right before, during, and after the October Revolution. Especially interesting is the section dedicated to the Soviet policy in the East, in which Maisky meticulously examines Soviet affairs with Japan, China, Bukhara, Persia, Turkey, Khiva, Mongolia, and Afghanistan. The chapter about Japan is overtly replete with Soviet propaganda, drawing the East Asian country as an aggressor that oppresses both Korea and China. At the time, both states were in the sphere of interests of the RSFSR, further igniting the tense relationship between the USSR and Japan. In the conclusion, the author defends the RSFSR against bourgeoise claims of “red imperialism,” suggests that the Eastern nations will eventually abide with the USSR, and accuses the West of distorting Trotsky’s statements. From the late 1920s, when a massive anti-campaign against Trotskyists was launched, all editions praising the Marxist revolutionary were confiscated and vigorously destroyed. Against this background, Maisky’s book can be considered a rare survival of the time, although the author himself didn’t manage to avoid Soviet repressions.
In 1925, Maisky was appointed counselor at the Soviet embassy in London, acting up as de facto ambassador until he was forced to leave when Britain severed diplomatic relations with the USSR in May 1927. He was a counselor at the Soviet embassy in Tokyo from 1927 to 1929. In April 1929, he became the Soviet Envoy to Finland. Maisky was also the Soviet envoy to the Committee of Non-Intervention during the Spanish Civil War. In 1941, after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, Maisky was responsible for the normalization of relations with the Western Allies. In July 1943, Maisky was recalled to Moscow for consultations. That was, in fact, the end of his career as a diplomat. In 1953, Ivan was arrested during the anti-semitic purge that peaked with the announcement of the so-called Doctors’ plot. In custody, fearing that he might be tortured, he confessed to being recruited as a spy. He was saved from the threat of execution by Stalin’s death, in March, when Lavrentiy Beria seized back control of the Ministry of State Security (MGB) and renounced the Doctor’s Plot as a fabrication. Maisky was rearrested after Beria’s fall from office in June 1953. This time, he refused to confess, and at his trial, in June 1955, was sentenced to the comparatively light term of six years exile. He was released two months later, when the new Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, was due to meet Anthony Eden in Geneva. After his release, Maisky went back to work in the Academy of Sciences and was allowed to publish four volumes of memoirs.
Worldcat shows copies of the edition at Harvard, Princeton University, Concordia College Library, Concordia Theological Seminary, Virginia Tech, Indiana University, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Morningside University, Dallas Theological Seminary, UC Berkeley Libraries, University of California, and Stanford University.