Books: The Hero as Sucker

EL CAMPESINO: LIFE AND DEATH IN SOVIET RUSSIA (218 pp.)—Valentín González and Julian Gorkin—Putnam ($3.50).

Valentín González, a fiery, black-bearded Spaniard, was once a Communist hero —and why not? The man had all the makings : 1) he was a landlord-hating peasant who could kill an enemy and sleep soundly afterwards; 2) he was a fine troop commander, a tough, natural leader who became a living legend during the Spanish civil war; 3) he was a Communist.

"El Campesino," he was called—The Peasant—and all over the world the leftist press worked overtime to make him a dazzling symbol. Ilya Ehrenburg, one of Russia's...

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