Henry Noble MacCracken, “Russia of To-day”



MacCracken, ‘Russia of To-day’ – The Literary Review 5-5-1923




Posted here (above) as a Word document is the complete text of following article:



“Russia of To-day”

By Henry Noble MacCracken

The Literary Review

(published by New York Evening Post)

Vol. 3, No. 35

May 5, 1923

pp. 657, 658, 665




The article reviews a recent “pamphlet” (so termed by MacCracken; actually a short book) of Sorokin’s that he published in Prague:

“современное состояние России” (sovremennoye sostoyaniye Rossii;  The Contemporary Condition of Russia)

By Pitirim Sorokin

Prague, 1922 (MacCracken gives the wrong year of publication, 1923)



MacCracken writes:


“The psychology of the refugee” is the phrase with which most European observers of to-day are apt to dismiss any report written by an exile of this home land. There is much that is just in the observation. It is inevitable that the refugee should, in order to justify himself for leaving his home land, exaggerate the abnormalities of home conditions, the cruelty of his enemies, and the need of foreign aid and intervention. It is natural also that the refugee should stress the circumstances which passed under his immediate observation, and should generalize from insufficient data of the universal conditions. The precariousness of his own means of existence, the characteristics of dependency, well known to social workers, all influence his judgement and his interpretation of facts.

It is true that most books about Russia bear marks of the refugee psychology. They all, or nearly all, tell the same story. In contrast with the present conditions, the previous condition of Russia is treated as idyllic, and in most of the books at least the deplorable conditions of the present are attributed to the active ill will and viciousness of a small group of people, instead of to unsound political and economic doctrine, and the inevitable conditions of war.

As a result, scarcely any really trustworthy accounts of conditions in Russia to-day can be found. It is quite out of the question to expect that an American observer, however familiar with Russia he might have been in the past, could get a really wide and impartial view of Russian conditions, or that, seeing them, he could really interpret them. Those residents of Russia who might give such a picture are prohibited from writing by the Soviet Government. Whatever else the Bolshevists may have to reproach the capitalistic governments with, at least they cannot claim superiority in the matter of freedom of speech.

It is therefore a wholly exceptional opportunity which is presented in the recent pamphlet* of Pitirim Sorokin. Exiled last autumn from his professorship of sociology at Petrograd University, Sorokin brought with him [to Czechoslovakia] official data concerning conditions in Russia, and in the course of a few days wrote at white heat his pamphlet, which was published in the first week of January of this year. After extended conversations with him in Prague in December, he gave me an advance copy of his work, with permission to use extracts from it in any way.


Henry Noble MacCracken (1880–1970) was president of Vassar College from 1915 to 1946. He and Sorokin were lifelong friends. MacCracken first met Sorokin during a trip to Czechoslovakia in late 1922. He invited Sorokin, upon Sorokin’s coming to the USA, to visit Vassar College, where Sorokin had a pleasant stay before going to the Midwest to deliver lectures on the Russian Revolution.



— transcription of article by Roger W. Smith

   posted April 2019

review of “The Crisis of Our Age”; The Thomist 1942



review of ‘The Crisis of Our Age’ – The Thomist, July 1942




Posted here (above) as a downloadable PDF file is a review of The Crisis of Our Age by Pitirim A. Sorokin:


The Crisis of Our Age by Pitirim A. Sorokin (review)

By Louis A. Ryan

The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review

Volume 4, Number 3 (July 1942), pp. 523-533


It is a very thorough and thoughtful as well as discerning review, and I thought it worth posting.



— Roger W. Smith

   June 2018

Lewis Mumford review of “The Reconstruction of Humanity”



Lewis Mumford review of ‘The Reconstruction of Humanity’ – J of Religion, Oct 1949



Posted here as a PDF file (above) is a review by Lewis Mumford of The Reconstruction of Humanity by Pitirim A. Sorokin in:

The Journal of Religion

Vol. 29, No. 4 (October, 1949)



It is interesting that the review is by a non-academic. A very well known one. Note, for example, Mumford’s statement: “The present book has the virtues and defects of Professor Sorokin’s earlier works–both in great abundance. Like his greatest rival, Arnold Toynbee, he is a scholar who carries on his shoulders a tremendous burden of scholarly research, but … his thought is sometimes confused, rather than clarified, by his very erudition.






Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) was an American historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and literary critic.



— Roger W. Smith

March 2018

“Almost Any Catastrophe Would Fit Into Harvard Professor’s Thesis”



‘almost any catastrophe would fit into Harvard’ prof’s thesis’ – Balt Sun 10-2-1935



He Told Us So

Almost Any Catastrophe Would Fit Into Harvard Professor’s Thesis

By U. P. Ives

The Baltimore Sun, October 2, 1939, pg. 8



Full article posted above as a downloadable PDF file.

reviews of “Hunger as a Factor in Human Affairs” by Pitirim A. Sorokin



Robert Bierstedt review of ‘Hunger as a Factor’ – Social Forces


Carle C. Zimmerman review of ‘Hunger as a Factor’ – Social Science




In my post about the Russian-American sociologist Pitirim A. Sorokin, at


I stressed the originality and importance of Sorokin’s book Hunger as a Factor in Human Affairs, which I feel deserves to be better known.

Posted here are two reviews of the book which discuss its merits and the circumstances under which it was written and published:

review of Hunger as a Factor in Human Affairs by Robert Bierstedt, Social Forces, Vol. 55, No. 1 (Sep., 1976), pp. 195-196

review of Hunger as A Factor in Human Affairs by Carle C. Zimmerman, Social Science, Vol. 51, No. 2 (Spring 1976), Pp. 113-114



Robert Bierstedt (1913–1998) was a student of Sorokin’s who became a leading American sociologist. He headed the department of sociology at City College of New York and at New York University before becoming emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.


Carle C. Zimmerman (1897-1983) was a longtime colleague of Sorokin’s at the University of Minnesota and Harvard University.




— Roger W. Smith

   December 2017

“Sorokin in Review”




William T. Liu, ‘Sorokin in Review’ – The Review of Politics 1966



This seminal article on the Russian American sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin appeared in The Review of Politics in January 1966. Ostensibly a review of Sorokin’s autobiography, A Long Journey, which had just been published, the article is actually an assessment of Sorokin’s life, career, and oeuvre. It addresses controversies going on at the time which involved a defense of Sorokin being undertaken by renowned sociologists, and in which there was controversy over how theoretical as opposed to empirical sociology should be.

The article is posted above as downloadable PDF file.



— Roger W. Smith

   September 2017






William T. Liu, “Sorokin in Review,” The Review of Politics, 28:1 (January 1966), pp. 99-105.


a bitter exchange


Crane Brinton, ‘Socio-Astrology’


‘Historionics’ (Sorkin Reply to Crane Brinton)






A remarkable exchange between Harvard history professor Crane Brinton and Pitirim A. Sorokin, then chairman of Harvard’s Department of Sociology, occurred in 1937 and 1938 in the pages of The Southern Review, a respected journal. That it appeared in The Southern Review, a literary journal, rather than a journal devoted to history or sociology, is noticeable.

Professor Brinton’s article comprised as an appraisal of the first three volumes of Sorokin’s magnum opus, Social and Cultural Dynamics. It was not a standard review, by any means; it was, in fact an essay-review. It was over twenty pages long. Professor Sorokin’s rejoinder was about ten pages long.

Brinton attacks Sorokin with no holds barred, criticizing everything from the methodology and assumptions underlying the work to what he views as Sorokin’s atrocious prose style. Sorokin, clearly stung by the review, responded with a strenuous defense of his work in which he seemed at times to be on the defensive and in other sections of his rejoinder essay tried to even the score with a vigorous counterattack.

The two articles are posted above as downloadable PDF files.

Crane Brinton, Socio-Astrology, The Southern Review, vol. 3 (fall 1937), pp. 243-266

Pitirim A. Sorokin, “Histrionics,” The Southern Review, vol. 3 (winter 1938), pp. 554-564


— Roger W. Smith

   August 2017