- Series: Penguin Classics
- Paperback: 672 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; Abridged edition (April 4, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0142437859
- ISBN-13: 978-0142437858
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.5 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 30 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #494,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Living My Life (Penguin Classics) Paperback – Abridged, April 4, 2006
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In Living My Life, Emma Goldman, called "Red Emma" or "The Anarchist Queen" by the United States government and other detractors, describes her philosophical and political journey through her life. We witness the politicization of this young Russian immigrant as she arrives in the United States in 1886, begins her first job in a sweat-shop, and becomes inflamed by the Haymarket labor riots of 1887. Over the next forty years of her life as an anarchist, she wends her way through the labyrinth of American, Russian, and European radical politics. Living My Life is a graphic description of the labor movement in the United States; of the bitterly-fought battles and ensuing jail terms over free speech, free love, the right to birth control; and of day-by-day political and personal life in Russia immediately following the 1917 revolution. Emma Goldman applies the same unrelenting scrutiny to her political actions and the actions and philosophies of governments as she does to her love affairs and friendships. The power of this book lies in the personal nature of her narrative - in the daily accounts of the friendships, love affairs, doubts, and joys of Emma and her revolutionary colleagues - overlaid on the canvas of major world events. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Kate Boris-Brown --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Emma Goldman (1869–1940) came to America from Russia when she was sixteen. As a political activist, publisher, lecturer, and writer, she was a central figure in the radical social movements of her age.
Miriam Brody has written biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft and Victoria Woodhull.
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Top customer reviews
In Vol. 1 E. G. shares her development into the most notorious anarchist agitator in the U. S. and the myriad struggles of which she is a part. The reader obtains a deeper understanding of the struggle between workers and big business, the different radical groups that competed / cooperated with each other, and the subsequent persecution of radicals due to their activities. Vol. 2 includes the imprisonment of E. G. and her friend Sasha Berkman as oppontents of WWI followed by their deportations to Russia. Of particular historical interest is their experiences of the contradictions of the Bolshevik government, which they had previously defended. About 150 pages deal with their time in Russia--at first trying to be useful to the Revolution, then experiencing increasing disillusionment with its authoritarianism. This section includes personal accounts of the Kronstadt Rebellion and the death of Peter Kropotkin.
E. G. is one of the most beautiful and dynamic personalities of the 20th century, and her life is packed with enough history and adventure that it necessitates two volumes of autobiography. Combined they weigh in at 1000 pages, and honestly she probably could have trimmed it down to 600-700 without losing the heart of the material. On the other hand, it is really impossible to get too much of Emma Goldman.
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!)
Those who care for improving human conditions might enjoy learning about the struggles from 100 years ago for
things we take for granted now.