Candid glimpses into the life of an early 20th cent. American Radical
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 13 years ago
"Red Emma" Goldman is considered a founding mother of Syndicalism, a far Left Radical in every way. Her longtime romance and professional partnership with Alexander Berkman is chronicled in this selection of their correspodence. Alexander "Sasha" Berkman was, like Emma, a Jewish American Radical. He is most famous for his assassination attempt on the American industrialist Frick. He and Emma were eventually deported. Berkman and Goldman were friends with my family in the early part of the 1900s. Some of their mutual comrades and friends appear in this book: the Gershoys (Leo was an NYU professor and Communist), Harry Kelly, etc. These letters are what one would expect from Left Wing Anarchists of the time -- idealistic, intellectual, passionate, wildly anti-establishment, anti-religious, and anti-American, creative, earnest, self-righteous, and just a little bit crazy. The editors' (highly sympathetic) Introduction does a nice job of helping someone living almost a century later to understand how Anarchism was considered a Left wing movement, distinct from but related to Marxism, rather than a Far Right one. But I'm still a little confused -- it was for de-centralization and the rest of the far Left was (and is) for total centralization. In the end, what united Anarachism and Communism was a mutual antipathy to Western capitalism, religion, morality and social order. (Maybe analogous to the way the Far Left in contemporary Europe is working with certain Islamic facists). Anyway, Goldman and Berkman are fascinating charachters. Their earnestness and intellect are compelling. Whatever your politics (I am not any more drawn to Syndicalism than before) this is very interesting reading. Despite Berkman having systematically destroyed many of his letters to protect the contents from the authorities, the Drinnons have collected quite a batch of correspondence gold. As far as I know this book has not been reprinted since this 1975 edition. My used copy has held up very well. The name index is excellent, though I wish there was a topic and place index. Also, the book could use a timelines. But overall, very engaging.
great historical documentation
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 20 years ago
Anyone interested in Goldman's life should, somehow, check this book out (obviously it's out of print, but I found it in my university library). Chronicling the letters between Goldman and Berkman, the reader is shown a life of exile that these two anarchists lived after two deportations: one from Amerika and one from Russia. One gets a unique perspective of the political events of the time (Hitler's rise to power, Franco's Spain, etc.), while one feels a compassion for these maligned political radicals. Worth the read.
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