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Paperback Living My Life Book

ISBN: 0142437859

ISBN13: 9780142437858

Living My Life

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Book Overview

Anarchist, journalist, drama critic, advocate of birth control and free love, Emma Goldman was the most famous--and notorious--woman in the early twentieth century. This abridged version of her two-volume autobiography takes her from her birthplace in czarist Russia to the socialist enclaves of Manhattan's Lower East Side. Against a dramatic backdrop of political argument, show trials, imprisonment, and tempestuous romances, Goldman chronicles the...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

One of the most important books you'll ever read

This is the best autobiography I've ever read, because her life was lived with such commitment & independence. Certainly, she was hugely influential in her time, but her success was scratched out of nothing, with no support, and huge opposition. The difficulties and the times are conveyed amazingly well. The book will make you look carefully at your own life ... in ways that can only change it for the better.

Enjoyable book, fun to read, informative

I could not disagree more with Goldman's ultimate philosophical conclusions, but I enjoyed this book, and volume II as well. Her essential humanity emerges, and it is a good case study and an interesting read, historically, philosophically and personally. She is no Mark Twain or Billy Faulkner, but her life was interesting and her prose adequately conveys the milieu she became enmeshed in. A fair degree of antecedent historical knowledge is necessary to fully enjoy this book, but you most likely have that or you wouldn't be reading about Emma to begin with. If you don't, or find that you are getting lost in the history and sequence, it would pay to do a little research to better understand what she lived through. It will also help you spot bias on Goldman's part. I heartily recommend this book. It is informative, enlightening and entertaining to boot.

Living Beyond Expectations

In her autobiography Emma Goldman explains her life, narrating the experience of marching to her own drummer. Depending on the reader's political expectations, Emma's life is either inspiring or downright terrifying. Those who believe in social conformity would probably be more comfortable moving on to other fodder. Nevertheless, this eyewitness account of American and Russian history, ought not to be trivially dismissed. Emma fought for things we have taken for granted in modern life, such as birth-control and the eight-hour work day; she went to jail in the struggle to obtain these for us. This book explains how she lived her commitment to individual liberty, choosing who she would love, advocating revolution, and harrassing those of her "allies" who compromised on these principles. Perhaps the most interesting portion of the book is her years in Russia. Here she describes arriving at the "Promised Land" of the peoples' revolution and how that mutated into a sense of disillusionment and horror at what she saw as the betrayal of that revolution by the "dictatorship of the proletariat."Her writing style is nothing exceptional, but the story she weaves from the material of her life is nothing short of fascinating. Another reviewer suggested taking a break between volumes--I couldn't! I had to know what happened next. Although there are a lot of pages to wade through, I will give this book as a gift to the young women in my life. I believe that Emma can serve as a role model for living one's own life, not living out the expectations of friends, family, or society. In a dysfunctional world, we have too few people who model this.Emma gets three stars for writing style, but the powerful and plentiful content bring the rating up to five stars. Not to be missed.(If you'd like to discuss this book or review, click on the "about me" link above & drop me an email. Thanks!)

Emma Goldman's autobiography--an essential document

Goldman's autobiography is a long read, but I implore anyone with a critical mind and a feeling of social consiousness to pick it up at once. The book is testimony of the powerful eloquence and charisma of Emma Goldman, who managed to weave the minute details of the lives of some of our most brilliant and--by virtue of their radicalism--unknown revolutionary activists of turn-of-the-century America and abroad into an absorbing and intense piece of non-fiction. The historical events recorded in this autobiography--often day-by-day accounts--reveal a different perspective of what we're taught in high school history classes, which often portray great movements in societies as the product of one person's toil--usually an ex-president. Goldman chronicles a huge network of vibrant social activists--Anarchists, Socialists, Communists, Humanists, Suffragists, just to name a few--who often worked long hours by day to support themselves while working for their causes at night. The details are both inspiring and disturbing, as the actions of the American public and its government against immigrants, activists, or anyone else whom it deemed un-american are described with clarity by the victim who lived through it, and not by the patriot historian. One of the most heartwrenching descriptions in the entire book is the mass deportation to Russia on Christmas, 1919, of hundreds of first and second-generation Russian immigrants(Goldman included), many of whom could not even speak Russian. Much of the second volume is devoted to Goldman's life in Russia after her deportation--a period of her life that is a book in itself. It includes rich details of post-revolutionary Russia-- conversations with Lenin, train rides to remote regions of the country, visits to towns deracinated by the Russian pogroms against the Jews, and her eventual unceremonious departure from the country. As I already mentioned, the book is a long read. I'd recommend taking a break between volumes one and two. It's worth the time it takes to get through it. Emma Goldman's autobiography is an essential document for anyone who harbors a passion for social change, a curiousity about turn-of-the-century America or the Bolshevik Revolution, or just enjoys good non-fiction.

Buy it before it disappears. You'll use it for inspiration.

Though Emma Goldman has finally begun to be recognized by some people, she still is an unknown quantity to many. Anarchy. We hear "anarchy" and shudder. For Emma, anarchy was based on her belief in the innate goodness of man. Government takes away rights, rather than preserves them. We must learn to act outside the constraints of government and society. And we msut accept responsibility for our acts as she did for hers. She fought long and hard for individual rights. Her life wasn't easy; but it was HER life. Her autobiography is wonderfully fluid and a joy to read, even though English was not her native language. She inspires by her example and gives a riveting portrait of America from the 1890's through the 1920's. DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK
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