(Page 2 of 2)
The following month, Reed reports of a young temptress’s advances, which he repels. He reports that “she wanted to make love. I didn’t + couldn’t.” Reed explains that women have made him weak, and “now without a mate I am half a man, and sterile.”
Ten days later, Reed writes: “I know, my lover — I realize how disappointed + cruelly disillusioned you have been. You thought you were getting a hero — and you only got a vicious little person who is fast losing any spark he may have had.” In the margin, Reed adds as a postscript: “Don’t be alarmed by this last. I have kept my word to you — lover.”
THE POSSIBILITY OF Reed contracting syphilis, let alone transmitting it to Bryant, is dismissed out of hand by biographer Roger Rosenstone and not addressed at all by biographer Granville Hicks. Both authors quote from the letters that indicate such a scenario and do no more than that.
But a European doctor diagnosed Reed, a notorious benefactor of whores, with syphilis and an American doctor subsequently diagnosed Bryant with a venereal disease as well. Do Reed’s biographers, and his Hollywood hagiographer, know something that these doctors did not?
The methodology is one Jack Reed knew well. Never the detached observer, John Reed’s journalism always reeked of the interested partisan.
Reed covered the Paterson strike of 1912 with such passion that he was arrested with the strikers and later organized a disastrous consciousness-raising pageant in Madison Square Garden in which the picketing laborers played themselves. Riding with Pancho Villa’s band in Mexico, an exuberant Reed reported the fall of Torreon a week before it occurred. From the German trenches during the Great War, “journalist” Reed took shots at French soldiers.
Reed’s most famous work of advocacy journalism, Ten Days That Shook the World, is perhaps the most famous book on the Bolshevik Coup and the tome that launched dreams of Soviet Russia as a heaven-on-earth in the making. Reed picked up a gun alongside those he covered, invented third-person accounts of events when first-person accounts stood to harm commissars, and snitched on Russians foolish enough to give him their negative opinions of the Bolsheviks.
Declining George Creel’s job offer on Woodrow Wilson’s wartime propaganda board, Reed nevertheless accepted the Bolsheviks’ subsequent job offer in their propaganda outfit. That John Reed wrote Ten Days That Shook the World as an employee of the Soviet Bureau of International Revolutionary Propaganda has strangely not detracted from its reputation.
At century’s end, a panel of prestigious journalists convened by New York University named it as the seventh best work of U.S. journalism in the twentieth century. In Reds, one of the senior-citizen talking heads whose reminiscences are deftly interspersed with the cinematic drama, recalls, “As a journalist, Jack Reed topped them all.”
But Jack Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World is as much journalism as Warren Beatty’s Reds is history. Soviet Russia turned out not to be the heaven on earth prophesied in Reed’s book, Warren Beatty wasn’t Jack Reed and Diane Keaton wasn’t Louise Bryant, and free love rarely turns out as uncomplicated in real life as it does on the silver screen.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?