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First edition
(publ. Harper & Brothers, 1949)

The God That Failed is a 1949 book[1] that collects together six essays with the testimonies of a number of ex-communist writers and journalists. The common theme of the essays is the authors' disillusionment with and abandonment of communism. The book jacket for the 2001 edition says it "brings together essays by six of the most important writers of the twentieth century on their conversion to and subsequent disillusionment with communism."[2]

The six contributors were Louis Fischer, André Gide, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Stephen Spender, and Richard Wright.


Richard Crossman, the British Member of Parliament who conceived and edited the volume, at one point approached the famous American ex-communist Whittaker Chambers about contributing an essay to the book. At the time Chambers was still employed by Time magazine, having not yet gone public with his charges against Alger Hiss, and so declined to participate.

The book contains Fischer's definition of "Kronstadt" as the moment in which some communists or fellow-travelers decide not just to leave the Communist Party but to oppose it as anti-communists. Editor Crossman said in the book's introduction: "The Kronstadt rebels called for Soviet power free from Bolshevik dominance" (p. x). After describing the actual Kronstadt rebellion, Fischer spent many pages applying the concept to some subsequent former communists—including himself: "What counts decisively is the 'Kronstadt.' Until its advent, one may waver emotionally or doubt intellectually or even reject the cause altogether in one's mind and yet refuse to attack it. I had no 'Kronstadt' for many years" (p. 204). Writers who subsequently picked up the term have included Whittaker Chambers, Clark Kerr, David Edgar, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Norman Podhoretz.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ OCLC 45247578, 476533526, 658083986
  2. ^ OCLC 47050448; ISBN 0231123957 ISBN 9780231123952