By: Scott RossPublished: October 22, 2022

John Reed

John Silas Reed was born October 22, 1887, in Portland, Oregon, to a wealthy family. A sickly lad, he was doted on by a coterie of nannies and nurses, attended the finest schools and played with only the toniest of children. At Harvard he was active in The Lampoon,The Harvard Monthly, the Harvard Glee Club, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals... and so naturally, Reed became a pinko, a self-professed Bolshevik.

An aspiring young writer, Reed moved to Greenwich Village in New York after graduation and began working as a freelance journalist, before joining the staff of The Masses, a socialist magazine. He would go on to spend the rest of his life covering revolutions and labor disputes of all manner, before shipping off to Europe to cover WW I.

He would return to Europe two years later to cover Russia's October Revolution, which he recounted in his book 10 Days That Shook The World. After the uprising, Reed hoped to return to the states, but got sick and died five days short of his thirty-third birthday. Upon his death he was granted the rare (for an American) honor of being buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis in Moscow's Red Square.

Reed's book 10 Days That Shook The World was later adapted by Sergei Eisenstein into a feature film, and in 1981, Warren Beatty wrote, directed, produced and starred in Reds, which also drew heavily from the book, as well as Reed's life. The film co-starred Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson and was nominated for twelve Oscars, winning Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Maureen Stapleton), and Best Cinematography (Vittorio Storaro).

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