International Publishers was founded by Alexander L. Trachtenberg (1885-1966) in 1924. Trachtenberg, a personal acquaintance of V.I. Lenin – leader of the Bolshevik Revolution – was a Marxist writer, educator, and publisher, as well as a founding member of the Communist Party, USA. Under his stewardship International Publishers became a leading publisher of Marxist, Communist, labor, African American, and other literature.
Like other Communists, during the 1950s McCarthy era Red Scare Trachtenberg was hounded, harassed, called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, and eventually jailed for advocating Marxism-Leninism.
After Trachtenberg’s 1962 retirement, James S. Allen (1906-1986) took the helm of International Publishers. Allen, also a Marxist writer and CPUSA organizer, was widely known as editor of the CPUSA newspaper the Southern Worker, and as the author of numerous books and pamphlets, including Reconstruction: The Battle for Democracy, 1865-1876 recently republished with a new Foreword by Eric Foner.
In 1968, Allen became the American editor of the 50 volume Marx-Engels Collected Works, a joint publishing project between International Publishers, Lawrence and Wishart, and Progress Publishers in Moscow.
After Allen’s retirement in the mid-1980s, Betty Smith took over International Publishers. Smith joined the CPUSA in the late 1940s as an activist in the Youth for Henry Wallace campaign. During the 1950s she was involved with the Civil Rights Congress and the International Union of Electrical Workers. She remained active in civil rights, workers’ rights, nuclear disarmament, and international solidarity throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Smith remained at the helm of IP until 2019.
In 2019, Gary Bono was elected President of International Publishers. As a retired transit worker, Bono began retooling IP for the 21st century, reprinting popular titles, reaching out to new authors, and expanding IP’s unique Marxist catalog.
Most recently, Tony Pecinovky joined IP as Vice President. Pecinovsky, a community activist and author, has written for numerous publications, including Black Perspectives, American Communist History, and the People’s World. His most recent book is titled The Cancer of Colonialism: W. Alphaeus Hunton, Black Liberation and the Daily Worker, 1944-1946.
Throughout its nearly 100-year history International Publishers has maintained a commitment to publishing high quality Marxist literature, fiction and nonfiction. From well-known classics, such as the Communist Manifesto, to ground-breaking works of historiography, such as Herbert Aptheker’s American Negro Slave Revolts; from the autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois, to Gerald Horne’s biography of Benjamin Davis, Jr. – the Communist Councilman from Harlem; from Philip S. Foner’s monumental 11 volume History of the Labor Movement in the United States to V.I. Lenin’s The State and Revolution, International Publishers has stayed true to its mission.
“International Publishers uses a laborer in its colophon. The device represents the idea which becomes power when it takes hold of the people. The figure is symbolic of the masses of people the publishers try to reach with the most significant economic and social literature of the time. The people, armed with the idea (the book), can look confidently toward the future.”
– Alexander Trachtenberg, 1936