Fischer, Louis

views updated


FISCHER, LOUIS (1896–1970), U.S. author and journalist, authority on Soviet Russia. Fischer, who was born in Philadelphia, worked first as a teacher. In 1917 he enlisted in the Jewish Legion recruited by the British in World War i to fight in Palestine. The war was over by the time he arrived in Palestine, but he stayed on to familiarize himself with the country and to become acquainted with Jewish leaders. In 1922 he went to Russia where he remained for 14 years. No foreign journalist then or later came to know so many of the top leaders of the Revolution. Oil Imperialism (1926) was Fischer's first book on the Soviet Union. Permitted by the Foreign Commissariat to study their archives, he wrote the highly authoritative two-volume study, The Soviets in World Affairs (1930). With the Stalinist purges in the mid-thirties, when many of his close friends were sent to concentration camps or shot, Fischer left the Soviet Union and went to Spain. There he enlisted in the International Brigades and, after the collapse of the Republican regime, went on a tour round the world. He took a particular interest in India, where he became a close friend of Mahatma *Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Later Fischer became disillusioned with Communism and he participated in The God that Failed (1950), a symposium of noted writers who had abandoned their belief in Communism. His books include: Why Recognize Russia? (1933); Soviet Journey (1935); The War in Spain (1937); Stalin and Hitler (1940); an autobiography, Men and Politics (1941); Dawn of Victory (1942); Gandhi and Stalin (1947); The Life of Mahatma Gandhi (1950); The Life and Death of Stalin (1952); Russia, America and the World (1961); and The Life of Lenin (1964). In 1959 he became a member of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton University, and later a research associate and lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School of the university.

[Maurice Gerschon Hindus]