Blue Pencil Politics

David Brandenberger and Mikhail Zelenov. Stalin’s Master Narrative: A Critical Edition of the HISTORY OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION (BOLSHEVIKS): SHORT COURSE. New Haven: Yale University Press 2019

Published in 1938, the CPSU (B) party history was officially attributed to an anonymous central committee editing commission. A new edition of what was universally referred to as the Short Course comes from Yale University Press. Edited by the historians David Brandenberger and Mikhail Zelenov, initially under the suggestive title Stalin’s Catechism, to provide “A Critical Edition of the Short Course on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”.

Brandenberger and Zelenov have worked in the archives to reconstruct the original draft of the most widely disseminated communist text in Stalin’s time and compares the draft with the edited text published as the authoritative history of the Party. It illustrates the deletions and marginalia additions contributed in Stalin’s true role as editor. Such editorial intervention that were included in the final printed edition are discussed more fully in the introduction by David Brandenberger and Mikhail Zelenov. It substantiates the attribution of Stalin as “author”, a judgement that saw the Short Course included as a volume in the series of Stalin’s Works.