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Wolfe, Bertram David


WOLFE, BERTRAM DAVID (1896–1977), U.S. historiographer. Born in New York City, Wolfe became involved in radical politics, first as a socialist and later as a member of the Workers (Communist) Party. He edited the party's organ, The Communist, 1927–28. In 1929 he was expelled from the party and became active in the Communist opposition group. He thus became what was called a "Lovestoneite," one of the Right Opposition the party expelled along with Jay Lovestone. Wolfe later broke with the Marxist left.

Wolfe and his wife, Ella, had experience of the Soviet Union in the early years of Stalin's rule and knew the Russian leader personally. Wolfe's scholarly work was chiefly in the field of Marxist history and Soviet affairs. His book Three Who Made a Revolution (1948) is a biographical study of Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. Among his other works are Keep America out of War (with N. Thomas (1939); Communist Totalitarianism (1961), first published under the title Six Keys to the Soviet System (1956); Marxism, One Hundred Years in the Life of a Doctrine (1965); Strange Communists I Have Known (1965); The Bridge and the Abyss (1967); and An Ideology in Power (1969). A Life in Two Centuries: An Autobiography was published in 1981. He was also the biographer of Diego Rivera, e.g., The Fabulous Life of Diego Rivera (1963).

Wolfe was a fellow of the Russian Institute of Columbia University and the Hoover Library.

add. bibliography:

G. Lennard (ed.), Lenin and the 20th Century: A Bertram D. Wolfe Retrospective (1984); R. Hessen (ed.), Breaking with Communism: The Intellectual Odyssey of Bertram D. Wolfe (1990).

[Ezra Mendelsohn /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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