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Life of an Anarchist: The Alexander Berkman Reader Paperback – November 2, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 372 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 2 edition (November 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583226621
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583226629
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,223,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A failed assassin, anarchist, lover of Emma Goldman and clear-eyed critic of the Russian revolution, Alexander Berkman (1870-1936) immersed himself in the political passions of his time, and this rich collection of his writings revives his witness. During the Homestead Strike of 1892, Berkman attempted to assassinate industrialist Henry Frick; excerpts from his somewhat melodramatic prison memoirs show Berkman's lofty idealism matured during his 14-year term. Selections from his magazine, The Blast, argue urgently against war and for birth control, worker unity and free speech. Most valuable are Berkman's accounts of Russia, where he was deported in 1919, and which he left two years later. His initial optimism was quickly tempered by glimpses of an autocratic regime, especially the repression of workers at Kronstadt. Also included are Berkman's naively faithful primer The ABC of Anarchism, and several letters to and from Goldman. In one exchange, they debate the value of violence; in another, Goldman calls Berkman "the greatest force in my life." Fellner, an activist and artist who edits the GLF Occasional , has selected and annotated the entries well.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

GENE FELLNER is an activist and artist living in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he edits and illustrates the GLF Occasional. He has been a staffworker for the Attica Brothers Legal Defense and a founder of the Cold Type Organizing Committee. In 1987 he was named Distinguished Artist by the New Jersey State Council for the Arts.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Siciliano VINE VOICE on February 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
"What we call progress has been a painful but continuous march in the direction of limited authority and the power of government and increasing the rights and liberties of the individual, of the masses."

Alexander Berkman, "The ABC of Anarchism"

Alexander Berkman burned life-long for his idea.

Berkman was an anarchist born at the turn of the 20th century. Early on he befriended the famed rabble-rouser Emma Goldman and forged a revolutionary bond that would endure until his final letter to her; contained in this exciting collection of writings entitled, "Life of an Anarchist."

Born in Russia and suckled on the idea of deposing the Czar, Berkman's writings reveal a precocious and brilliant young mind antagonized by the injustice he saw everywhere in the world, but mostly in the work warrens sprouted everywhere by the Industrial Revolution.

So convinced were he, Goldman, and other immigrant libertarians, that the social revolution was just around the corner - for science held it to be so - that the twenty-one year Berkman injected himself into the Homestead strike of anthracite miners in Pennsylvania.

Although atheist, there is nothing hangdog about the original anarchists. Gerald Brennan, in his "The Spanish Labyrinth," notes that they are "uncompromising moralists."

Brennan recounts, "I was standing on a hill watching the smoke and flames of some two hundred houses in Malaga mount into the sky. An old anarchist of my acquaintance was standing beside me. `What do you think of that?' he asked.

"I said, `They are burning down Malaga.'

`Yes,' he said, `they are burning it down.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By cvairag VINE VOICE on May 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
The emergence of an articulated attempt to create an alternative form of social organization, an alternative to capitalist statism at the turn of the twentieth century basically broke down into three camps: 1) state socialism (what eventually manifested as Bolsheivism in Russia and Maoism in China; 2) what I would call communalism - that is living by Marxist and/or Neo-Marxist progressive principles within capitalist society and awaiting its collapse (the type of ideal realized by such figures as Trotsky and some flower children of the sixties - the "alternative lifestyle" its been called); 3) a life of active struggle against both capitalism and the state ("activism", of non-violent (Gandhi) and violent (Rosa Luxembourg) variations). Berkman was of the latter - and valuably shares his struggles, both with the external demons and his internal ones, in his writings. I have not read this anthology, but read his noted "Prison Memoirs" included in it (which I would assume comprises the greater part of its 352 pages) some years ago - and they are worth the read. Berkman was a man "ahead of his time", deeply feeling. His experiences and reactions prefigure many of our own, in the circumstances we confront today. He takes a clear and accurate measure of the injustices of American statist capitalism - and casts a view into a number of disturbing trends (such as why the U.S. at present with less than 6% of the world's population confines more than 25% of the world's prison population) at their incipience.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "sophomoric" on March 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
An interesting survey of Berkman's writings. Especially useful are his letters to Emma Goldman--shows a bright and honest man intelligently struggling with the contradictions and problems in his philosophy. He tends to write clearly, which is refreshing if you've tried to digest other anarchist philosophy of the early twentieth-century. Not a bad place to start if you are into this sort of thing.
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