To Revolution! To Anarchy! To the Socialist State!
—One Man's Initiation: 1917, 1920
All works published before May 1933
American writer John Dos Passos (1896–1970) underwent several political conversions in his rather adventurous life. After graduating from Harvard in 1916, he volunteered for the French army. He later served as a medic in the U.S. army after American entry into the war. At Verdun, he saw some of the fiercest fighting of World War I. His first two novels—One Man's Initiation: 1917 and Three Soldiers—published in 1920 and 1921, respectively, are based on his experiences at the front. He attacked war as a capitalist tool for enslaving workers, and advocated pacifism and social reform.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Dos Passos, focusing his literary energy on the ills of capitalism, became a hero to the political left. The Nazis condemned and burned his works for their leftist leanings. Dos Passos' Communist leanings and his participation in the Spanish Civil War made him persona non grata to Nazi Germany's rulers, even though he would later break with Communism in the wake of Stalin's purges.