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Sasha and Emma: The Anarchist Odyssey of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman Hardcover – November 1, 2012
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So, if neither Berkman nor Goldman were communists, how did their anarchism infuse their lives? Paul Avrich, a professor of Russian History and Anarchism at Queens College, CUNY, spent his career interviewing those who knew the pair. His daughter, Karen, completes his project and their joint effort in this dual biography pays tribute to the odyssey of this compelling, angry, idealistic pair, fittingly.
The Avriches fluently transcribe the memories of many who shared their recollections with Paul in the 1970s. As I read this, I found myself intrigued by how deeply anarchists a century ago had entered into their own Occupy Movement, from Puget Sound communities where my father-in-law grew up and less surprisingly the Lower East Side neighborhood where I would stay next month, to a few miles away from my house, where the first Los Angeles Times building was blown up during a pro-union dispute in 1910. That location lent itself to over a half-dozen causes célèbres infusing these four-hundred pages of text with places and names still resonating today, for a few radicals.Read more ›
Other interesting chapters deal with Emma Goldman's affair with Ben Reitman,the killing of President McKinley in 1901, the deeds of many other lesser known anarchists, the deportation of Emma and Sasha to Russia (courtesy of Edgar J. Hoover) and the final days of both after having returned, disillusioned by the Bolshevik Revolution, from Russia to Canada and France, respectively. As Sasha wrote,"the breath of yesterday is dooming millions to death; the shadow of today hangs like a black pall over the country. Dictatorship is trampling the masses under foot. The Revolution is dead; its spirit cries in the wilderness".
Berkman, known as "Sasha', was an eternal rebel whose disturbing acts of violence were tempered by his tireless efforts to improve the lot of the oppressed. He served his sentence for assault and it was in prison where he wrote his memoirs of an anarchist ,which detailed his bleak experience and exposed corruption in the American penal system.
Between 1909 and 1919,the year he was deported, he edited the two most prominent anarchist periodicals of the era, organized mass protests on behalf of radical and labout causes, and also gave speeches around the United States about his beliefs.Read more ›
Six years later, SASHA AND EMMA was published. I find it astonishing that a father/daughter could collaborate on a book that is as seamlessly 'Paul Avrich' as his seminal 1984 THE HAYMARKET TRAGEDY (see my July 7, 2013 Amazon review) and SACCO AND VANZETTI: THE ANARCHIST BACKGROUND.
SASHA AND EMMA is a whacking good read. It is especially important for those like me (a college American and world history professor since 1992) who think they know about the Homestead Strike, anti-anarchist hysteria, the antecedents to the 'Palmer raids' and the rise of J. Edgar Hoover, and about a fierce warrior who could harangue in multiple languages, cook, sew, and nurse, love Russia and then leave it totally disillusioned. I urge that you discover how little you really know. Incidentally, only an accountant could calculate whether Emma Goldman had more lovers than arrests.
The Avrichs provide a rich panorama of the genesis of American (and immigrant-fueled) anarchism through the lives of Emma Goldman, Alexander (Sasha) Berkman, and a cast of hundreds of anarchists both in America and in Europe. Sasha, whom I had only known as a minor figure who had bungled the assassination of Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead Strike, emerges as a major counterpoint to "Red Emma' over two turbulent generations.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A pleasure to read. Emma was so ahead of her time. She blends right in to today's issues and is an inspiration to all. Thank you for writing so beautifully about her.Published 12 months ago by William Zajac Jr.
This is a fascinating book. The authors do an excellent job of taking you through the world of late 19th-early 20th century radicals, covering every aspect from ideology to... Read morePublished on May 6, 2014 by Trajork
I did manage to read every page of this book, but with an increasingly sinking heart and the forlorn hope that surely the author could not continue to avoid, page after page,... Read morePublished on April 6, 2014 by Lee Weiner
Turrn of 20th century and country was trying to adjust to Industialization. TR did it with anti-monopoly progressive leadership, Sasha and Emma attempted it European and Russian... Read morePublished on February 8, 2014 by Joseph Meth
Excellent book, hated to put it down. The only thing I didn`t like was the ending. Not the ending itself, as much as that the book ended.Published on November 16, 2013 by willwag3
I loved this book which provides a highly readable account of the rich lives of struggle engaged by Emma Goldman and her former lover and dearest comrade/friend Alexander Berkman. Read morePublished on July 8, 2013 by kathy miriam
Wheras Stanford's Desperate Sons showed us violent patriots in the raw, Sasha and Emma show us radicals who romanticized violence and deeply committed themselves to the cause of... Read morePublished on February 22, 2013 by Josef the English Major
An amazing story of two very interesting and accomplished folks. I don't have to agree with everything they believed but I have to stand up and cheer their passion and hard work. Read morePublished on February 10, 2013 by Charles P. Miller