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Memoirs of a Revolutionary (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – 28 Jun 2012


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Memoirs of a Revolutionary (New York Review Books Classics) + The Case Of Comrade Tulayev (New York Review Books Classics) + Unforgiving Years
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics (28 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590174518
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590174517
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.9 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Oct 2002
Format: Paperback
This book has been out of print for over a decade. It's great to see it back again. Serge was a stateless novelist and anarchist who saw the events of the Russian Revolution until about 1930. He wrote mostly in French. His point of view is largely non-political. While imprisoned in France he was exchanged for some French prisoners held in Russia. He knew the poets, painters and so-called "oppositionist" writers in the early days of the Soviet Union. He describes their descent into disillusionment and inevitable destruction. He is at the very centre of the group of people who tried to humanise communism and preserve independence of thought. The style is fast and furious. He stops to describe a snowy starlit night, then rushes on to a poetry reading or to visit a friend in jail. There are only two other serious literary contenders for this point of view - John Reed's "Ten Days that Shoot the World" and Trotsky's own "My Life". Serge was so impressed by Orwell's "Homage To Catalonia" that he posted the manuscript of "Memoires" ("Cahiers") to him and trusted to fate. Luckily Orwell did the right thing. We can read the last flickering descriptions of a thriving literary scene collapse and die.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By T. Gee on 11 Dec 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book sweeps you up in the excitement of the russion revolution, then slowly but surely watches the early hope slip away. The book explains why it happened, how it happened, then what happened after and why. It is a treatise against authoritarianism and careerist loyalists and an appeal for sticking to your principles, even when that is against your interests. An epic but accessible read for any historian or activist
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. F. J. Hoyles on 22 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Victor Serge's iconic autobiography was a book we used long ago to introduce students to the subject of literature and totalitarianism. It did two things: it gave us a lively and imaginative overview of 20th century history and politics from the Bolshevik Revolution to the death
of Trotsky; and it did this with a determined and delightful commitment to the cause of communist revolution, in spite of every betrayal, every atrocity, every degeneration of the workers' dream. And Serge was there in the thick of it, registering the poverty, crime and alcoholism within the would-be utopian Soviet Union, noticing that the Belgians were too fat and prosperous to make a revolution, and dying stateless, the ultimate outsider and internationalist, in a Mexican taxi.

This book has been out of print for ages. Now it has been reissued with some previously deleted passages, and some introductory material which for the first time benefits from the collapse of the Soviet Union and thereby signals the even greater relevance of Serge's work to a post-communist Russia and a globalised capitalism in crisis. Read this passionate memoir alongside Eric Hobsbawm's Age of Extremes, and you will get a real grip of that most bloody and radical era, the terrible 20th century with its dreams, nightmares, utopias, and its unfinished efforts to create liberty, equality and fraternity.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By N. Rogall on 28 Aug 2009
Format: Paperback
I first read this book aged 18 in 1968. It had a huge impact on my life - opening to me the world of the Russian Revolution not through Cold War propaganda from the USA/UK or Stalinist lies from Moscow but from the pen of a witness who knew all the key figures in Russia. But Serge was so much more: anarchist then Libertarian Bolshevik, then unorthodox Trotskyist; a novelist and poet of the highest order; a historian whose 'Year One of the Russian Revolution' is astonishing; a man of action who had fought in the Russian Civil War, a victim of the purges exiled to Siberia and released through an active literary campaign in the west. Try his 'Comrade Tulayev' & Midnight in the Century as well, or his writings on the German Revolution and the Russian Revolution.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jbroad on 1 Dec 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I very much enjoyed reading this complete edition of the Memoirs of Victor Serge; the previous version had been condensed, whereas this version missed nothing out. The transition of the writer from an anarchist in Belgium and Spain to the Bolshevik Party in Russia is fascinating, but even more stunning is the honest critique of the way in which the Bolsheviks came to believe that they were right and everyone else was wrong to such an extent that they began to eliminate all opposition to their ideas.
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