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Winner of The Age Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award 1998
Shortlisted for Best Australian History Book in the NSW Premier's History Awards 1998

In 1920, 26 men and women met in a dingy hall in Sydney to create a new political party. They expected the overthrow of capitalism and the emancipation of humanity-here, and all around the world.

Two decades later, when Australia joined the Second World War, the Commonwealth government suppressed the Communist Party of Australia. The handful of idealists and dissidents had become a political force powerful enough, in the view of the authorities, to pose a threat to national security.

The Communist Party was a major part of Australia's political landscape for more than half a century. It played a vital role in the country's largest trade unions. It blazed a trail for a range of social movements and attracted writers and artists who influenced much of Australia's cultural life. It also became the target of sustained surveillance and penetration by state police and federal security agencies.

Stuart Macintyre's account is the first comprehensive study of Australian communism in its formative years.

'This fascinating remembrance of the first two decades of the Communist Party of Australia [is] both erudite [and] infused with moral vision . . . a combination of courage, impeccable judgement and assiduous research.' - Ross Fitzgerald, Australian Book Review

'This is a masterful book.' - Tom Sheridan, Academy of Social Sciences Newsletter