Hotel Lux: An Intimate History of Communism’s Forgotten Radicals

Maurice J Casey

Hotel Lux follows Irish radical May O’Callaghan and her friends, three revolutionary families brought together by their vision for a communist future and their time spent in the Comintern’s Moscow living-quarters, the Hotel Lux.

Historian Maurice Casey reveals the connections and disconnections of a group of forgotten communist activists whose lives collided 1920s Moscow: a brilliant Irish translator, a maverick author, the rebel daughters of an East London Jewish family, and a family of determined German anti-fascists.

The dramatic and interlocking histories of the O’Flahertys, Cohens and Leonhards offer an intimate insight into the legacies of the Russian Revolution from its earliest idealism through to the brutal Stalinist purges and beyond. Hotel Lux uncovers a world of forgotten radicals who saw their hopes and dreams crash against reality yet retained their faith in a beautiful future for all.

Culminating in a queer love story that saw the daughters of the Cohens and Leonhards create an enduring partnership even as their parents’ political visions crumbled, this is a multi-generational rebel odyssey and a history of international communism, one which looks as much to the future as it does to the past.

“Tells the story of early 20th century communism through the eyes of those who lived it and felt and believed in it – while also living their entirely normal, rackety, emotional lives.”
Hallie Rubenhold, author of The Five
“An extraordinary trip through 20th century history, grounded in the singular characters occupying a single hotel in 1920s Moscow... this is a fascinating tale of exiles and emigres, zealots and dreamers, brought to thrumming life by an extraordinary cache of private letters, and Casey’s superb and propulsive portraiture. A historical, and humane, tour de force.”
Séamas O'Reilly, author of Did Ye Hear Mammy Died
“Beautifully written and researched. Full of the fire of curiosity and the magic of discovery, HOTEL LUX is a book that uncovers the radical in the everyday, the everyday in the radical.”
Seán Hewitt
“Maurice Casey's HOTEL LUX is a rich and bracing work that brings to fresh light a fascinating new contour in the history of transcontinental communism.”
Adrian Duncan
“Casey takes us inside the fabled HOTEL LUX, a place where revolutionaries, dreamers and agitators shared food, beds and doctrine, and reveals in exquisite detail how this Moscow building became a crucible in which ideals were tested, and lives forever entwined.”
Simon Parkin
“Maurice Casey writes with vivid empathy and his impressive research skills uncover complex networks of politics, ideology and love. A remarkably accomplished reconstruction of a forgotten world, its ideals, disappointments and delusions.”
Roy Foster, Emeritus Professor of Irish History, University of Oxford.
“Casey is a dazzling new voice in Irish writing. HOTEL LUX is an extraordinary debut, one that weaves together years of research to create a rich tapestry of the ordinary lives of forgotten revolutionaries... It's astoundingly brilliant, propulsive, compulsive, and deeply moving.
Aimée Walsh, author of Exile
“I loved this sweeping, thrilling Romance of Irish Communism - and American, English, German, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian Communism. HOTEL LUX takes the old history of the left and makes it fresh, new and moving.”
Owen Hatherley