International Publishers’ contribution to political education

BY:Barbara Russum| June 6, 2019

First some history: Alexander L. Trachtenberg (1885-1966) founded International Publishers™ (IP) in 1924.IP brought V.I. Lenin’s writings to the U.S. audience in English translation. IP caries works of Marx & Engels, labor history, African-American history, working women’s history, civil rights and liberties, and a Marxist approach to many other subjects.

Trachtenberg was a leading writer, educator, and publisher of works on Marxism. As a student at Yale, he wrote his dissertation on philosophy. First active in the Socialist Party, he was a founding member of the Communist Party USA in 1919. He wrote several historical works including a pamphlet entitled “The History of May Day.”

Trachtenberg was jailed for his writings and leadership of the Jefferson School of Social Studies in New York City in the late 1940s and 1950s. He was jailed for contempt of Congress when he would not turn over school records to the McCarthyites. He was active in the John Reed Clubs that spread on campuses and among artistic circles.

Trachtenberg is interred at the same cemetery as the Haymarket Martyrs, Lucy Parsons, and many other communists, socialists, Wobblies, and other radicals: Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, just west of Chicago. Alexander L. Trachtenberg: Grave 76, Sector B.

The slogan of IP is “Books to help you understand and change the world.” Do you wonder about its colophon? Here is an explanation from 1936: “International Publishers™ uses a laborer in its colophon. The device represents the idea which becomes power when it takes hold of the people. The figure is symbolic of the masses of people the publisher tries to reach with the most significant economic and social literature of the time. The people armed with the idea — the book — can look confidently toward the future.”

The IP website is The Facebook page is

Recent titles include books by Gerald Horne, Palmiro Togliatti, Tim Wheeler, Marc Brodine, and Bea Lumpkin. Some significant titles that were temporality out of print are now again available.

IP titles include works by Phillip Bonosky, Virginia Warner Brodine, Jesús Colon, Benjamin Davis, George Dimitrov, W.E.B. DuBois, Philip Foner, William Z. Foster, Antonio Gramsci, Hosea Hudson, Dolores ibarruri, Meridel LeSueur, Beatrice Lumpkin, William L. Patterson, Victor Perlo, William Pomeroy, Mike Quin, John Reed, Daniel Rubin, Art Shields, and others.

For many years Betty Smith almost single handedly kept International Publishers™ going. She is now having a very well deserved retirement and Gary Bono has taken over the management of IP. IP will be selling books at the convention and some authors will be present for autographing. And IP sells T-shirts and hoodies! Be sure to browse the IP book table.

In addition to ordering your personal copy of books from IP, suggesting them for your public or college library, suggesting a title for a class, you should have some copies on hand at your district’s bookstore, library, and/or reading room. Some authors tour and can be brought to your campus or district center bringing in a wide audience.

Like all small press publishers these days, the cost of publishing can be seriously prohibitive. Creative approaches to funding new titles and author tours would be great! And if you have the time and access to scanning equipment, long out-of-print materials can be made available in electronic form.

Many readers these days read online or use electronic devices, but my experience is that printed books and pamphlets are highly desirable for study and enjoyment by readers of all ages.

IP will be at the Left Forum the weekend after the convention and the Brooklyn Book Fair in September. Be sure to stop by! International Publishers™ is worth knowing and supporting.


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