We mourn the death, on November 2, of Leonard Schapiro, a valued friend and contributor of long standing to The New York Review. The following appeared in The Times of London on November 3.
Leonard Schapiro was a liberal who believed in evolutionary change and was profoundly skeptical of the idea that anything good could come out of revolution. He never, however, allowed his beliefs to become a substitute for scholarship, and his major academic books and articles commanded the admiration of those who disagreed with some of his commentaries on current affairs as well as of those who agreed with them.
Schapiro’s major book is The Communist Party of the Soviet Union, first published in 1960 and republished in an expanded second edition in 1970. It remains the fullest and most reliable history of the Soviet communist party in any language.
Among his other numerous published works, mention should be made of The Government and Politics of the Soviet Union (1965); Rationalism and Nationalism in Russian Nineteenth-century Political Thought (based upon a series of lectures delivered at Yale in 1965); and Turgenev: His Life and Times (1979), which was published during Schapiro’s extremely active retirement.
Leonard Schapiro’s scholarship was wide-ranging and he was intellectually as much at home (and spiritually far more at home) with the classics of nineteenth-century Russian literature as with the study of the Soviet Union.
December 22, 1983