Generation in Revolt, by Margaret McCarthy

This was the only book I read while researching That Forgetful Shore that I could not find a cover image of — it’s that obscure. Even my university library had to dig it out of a storage facility, and I cound find very few references to either the book or the author online. Which is a shame, because it’s a really interesting memoir of a slice of life you rarely read about.

The author, Margaret McCarthy, was a teenage factory worker in the North of England during the years immediately after World War One and the Russian Revolution. She got involved, first with the Trade Union movement, then with the British Communist Party. McCarthy was an active young Communist (I know, it’s funny to see “McCarthy was a Communist” in a sentence, isn’t it?) during the period between the wars, when most English people viewed Communism with wary suspicion but full-blown Cold War hysteria had not yet broken out. She travelled to Russia more than once as a youth delegate to international Party congresses, and became, as many idealistic young Communists of the period were, disenchanted and disillusioned as she gradually recognized that direction the Soviet Union was taking under Stalin. Later in life she became a Labour MP.

McCarthy’s writing style is more formal than readers would expect in a memoir written today (hers was written in the 1950s) but it’s still very readable and provides an invaluable glimpse into the mind and experience of someone who was deeply attracted to Communist theory but ultimately abandoned it.

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5 Comments

Filed under Nonfiction -- memoir

5 responses to “Generation in Revolt, by Margaret McCarthy

  1. Andrew

    Herobituary tells more of her story after the book was published in 1953 .

  2. Yes, that obituary was practically the only info I could find on her. BTW Andrew, I think that is the fastest time I have ever seen elapse between posting a review and someone replying to it. Do you have a Google Alert on Margaret McCarthy?

  3. Andrew

    No, your blog feed is in my rss reader, and I thought I recognised McCarthy’s name so I clicked straight through to read it!

  4. Cindy Stubbs

    Thank you for writing about this book! I’ve just finished Jonathan Rose’s Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes, in which her memoir is mentioned several times, and sounds fascinating. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get hold of a copy. I had a quick look around your blog too – it looks great.

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