Late last year, the world marked the hundredth anniversary of the “October Revolution,” as we know it, somewhat confusingly. The Bolsheviks seized power in Russia on November 7, according to our current calendar. It was October 25 according to the old. On that day, the government in Petrograd “was overthrown before it could say ‘ouch.’”1
That remark was made by a French observer, quoted in a new book, though unnamed. That book is Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party, by A. James McAdams. The author is a professor of international relations at Notre Dame who earned his Ph.D. (in political science) at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a communistologist, if I may. He has learned a very great deal about the communist world in the course of his long career, and this book seems to be the fruit of all that learning. It is a great achievement.
I have never experienced Prof. McAdams in the classroom—only on the page—but can imagine what he is like. I...