Miriam Braverman short interview

Chris Brady cdbrady at attglobal.net
Sat Nov 2 12:13:23 MST 2002

Miriam Braverman
by telephone; she called in answer to my letter of inquiry
Thursday, December 11, 1997

I asked if she'd mind discussing Harry Braverman in connection with Leo
She said, "Sure, Harry was very close to Leo.  He loved Leo."

We discussed Harry Bravermen, her husband until their separation after
he became the Director of the Monthly Review Press in 1965 (the precise
date of their separation I did not ask).
She said, "Leo and Paul had been wooing Harry for a long time, since at
least 1955"
(so they were trying to get him to come to MR for ten years!).
"But Harry didn't feel comfortable at MR with the politics
we're Trotskyists.  Especially when the Cultural Revolution came along,
Paul and Leo were on one side and Harry was definitely on the other.
But still, Leo was very outgoing, his personal style was very engaging,
and as things worked out, Harry was won over."

Miriam says she is still a Trotskyist in her head but not in any group.
She asked me if it was "still as vicious as it was out there", but I
told her I had little experience for comparison.

"Harry had been working on American Socialist from 1955 to 1960.  It was
a very fine magazine."
"Then Richard Seever, Dick, hired Harry at Grove.  Dick did Burroughs's
Naked Lunch; he had lived in Paris for years and knew that crowd.  Harry
edited Malcolm X.  Alex Haley had been trying to get it published.  He
was taking it around and nobody wanted it except finally Doubleday took
it but weren't doing anything with it and Harry bought it from them for
$10,000.  Harry didn't know where to begin because it was all on tape
and it was, like, street talk.  George Breitman told Harry that he had
to translate it, edit it, and make it available because it would become
a classic."

I asked about the transition from Leo to Harry at MR, how it went,
smoothly or what.
She assured me that it was as smooth and cooperative as you could get.
"Harry was very fond of Leo, Leo was an easy guy to like, and they
became fonder after 1965."
I remarked that Paul Sweezy said that the Press became more like a
business after Harry took it on.
She said that "Harry was a good manager.  He wrote up the union contract
for MR Press workers and made the Press a closed shop.
	"Harry took a big pay cut when he left Grove for MR," but he told her
he felt he had to "follow the music of his youth."
"He needed to be politically independent and they assured him it would
be the way he wanted it.  But to make sure Harry took 51%."

Jules Geller took over MR Press after Harry died.  Jules brought along
his secretary Susan Lowes who took over after him.
[opinions about MR Press since edited out for this correspondence]

She went on, "The collapse of the Soviet Union and the extinction of the
Communist Party leaves more possibility of openness.  The Stalinists
were vicious, but now they're gone, and the direction and ideas are all
in flux."

She was very nice to me over the telephone.  Her accent and humanity
reminded me of other women of her generation and background who I have
spoken to over the years-women "on one side" or "on the other."

--Chris Brady

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