Reed, John

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Reed, John,

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 Upon protest from the U.S. government, Reed was withdrawn from the consulship.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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Reed, John


Born Oct. 22, 1887, in Portland, Ore.; died Oct. 17, 1920, in Moscow. American labor leader, writer, and publicist.

The son of a judge, Reed graduated from Harvard University in 1910 and then worked as a journalist. In 1914 he published the book Insurgent Mexico (Russian translation, 1959), which supported the revolutionary struggle of the Mexican people and condemned the interference of the USA in Mexico’s domestic affairs. The essay “War in Colorado” (1914) condemned the violent treatment of striking miners. Reed was a war correspondent during World War I (1914–18). In 1916 he published the book The War in Eastern Europe (in Russian translation, Along the Front, 1928), which revealed the war’s imperialist nature.

Reed came to Russia as a war correspondent in August 1917, sided with the Bolsheviks, and enthusiastically welcomed the October Revolution of 1917. After returning to the USA in 1918, he joined the left wing of the Socialist Party and opposed the right-opportunist leaders who supported the imperialist war. He helped organize the left section of the Socialist Party at a conference of New York’s left-wing organizations held in February 1919 and was made editor of the newspaper New York Communist, which began publication in April 1919. In that year he was also elected a member of the National Left Wing Council. In August and September 1919, Reed helped found the Communist Labor Party of America, which in 1921 merged with the Communist Party of America. He lectured and wrote extensively, telling the American people the true facts about the October Revolution in Russia.

Reed’s book Ten Days That Shook the World, published in the USA in March 1919 (Russian translation, 1923), was a truly innovative work about the October Revolution, combining literary narrative, documentation, and publicist commentary. The book won international renown and was praised by V. I. Lenin, who wrote an introduction to it (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 40, p. 48).

Reed came to Moscow in October 1919. He met with Lenin often, was a member of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, and attended the Second Congress of the Comintern (July 1920). He died of typhus and was buried in Red Square at the Kremlin Wall. John Reed clubs were founded in the USA in 1929.


Daughter of the Revolution, and Other Stories. New York, 1927.
An Anthology. Moscow, 1966.
In Russian translation:
Vosstavshaia Meksika, 10 dnei, kotorye potrialsi mir, Amerika 1918. Moscow, 1968.


Gilenson, B. On videl rozhdenie novogo mira. Moscow, 1962.
Gladkov, T. Dzhon Rid. Moscow, 1962.
Kramov, I. Dzhon Rid. Moscow, 1962.
Startsev, A. Russkie bloknoty Dzh. Rida. Moscow, 1968.
Dangulov, S. Dvenadtsat’dorog na Egl’. Moscow, 1970.
Drabkina, E. Navstrechu buriam!, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1969.
Hicks, G. John Reed: The Making of a Revolutionary. New York, 1936.
D. Rid: Bibliografich. ukazatel’. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Reed, John (Silas)

(1887–1920) journalist, activist; born in Portland, Ore. A lifelong radical, he was a World War I correspondent and later observed the Russian Revolution firsthand, describing it in Ten Days That Shook the World (1919). Indicted for sedition in 1919, he fled to the Soviet Union, where he contracted a fatal case of typhus.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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