Copyright The Columbia University PressThe Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press
John Reed, 1887–1920, American journalist and radical leader, b. Portland, Oreg. After graduating from Harvard in 1910, he wrote articles for various publications and from 1913 was attached to the radical magazine The Masses. His coverage of the Paterson, N.J., silk workers strike of 1913 profoundly affected him, and thereafter he became a proponent of revolutionary politics. The articles that he wrote from Mexico about Pancho Villa established his reputation as a journalist and a radical. He served as a reporter in Europe in World War I and was in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) when the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917; his book, Ten Days That Shook the World (1919), is considered the best eyewitness account of the revolution. Expelled from the U.S. Socialist convention in 1919, he helped to organize the Communist Labor party, a left-wing splinter group of the Socialist party. He was indicted for sedition in New York City in 1918 and in Philadelphia in 1919, but both cases were dropped. Reed returned to the USSR, worked in the Soviet bureau of propaganda, and was appointed Soviet consul to New York. Upon protest from the U.S. government, Reed was withdrawn from the consulship. He died in Moscow of typhus and was buried at the Kremlin. A selection of his writings was edited by John Stuart (1955).
See biographies by G. Hicks (1936), R. O'Connor and D. L. Walker (1967), and B. Gelb (1973).