10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2008
An astounding and compelling document. Rich in illuminating historical detail, Goldman's diaries render palpable the struggles, personalities and contradictions of anarchism across the borders of the twentieth century. Meetings with Kropotkin, Lenin, Gorki, the upper strata of Bolsheviki and a lifetime of comradeship with Sasha Berkman - all written with grace and honesty. But this also has immense value as a political record - of the capacity of some to think critically and with a universal humanism while others were making Fascist fantasies concrete. Goldman and Berkman saw the manipulation and authoritarian heart of Leninism first hand, understood the crushing of the Soviets for what it was, and came back to tell everyone about the lie. That was in 1921. If progressive leftists didn't know, it's because they didn't want to. Read it.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2009
Anarchism, Libertarian Communism - call it whatever you like - is the philosophy of living "without government"; of freedom from the state and religious hierarchies; of freedom from the absurd superstition of Patriotism which brainwashes otherwise intelligent humans, turning them into snarling, drooling mad-dogs, ready to maim and kill other humans for a flag; of freedom from the soft slavery that is a part of living for others; it is a gentle philosophy, Anarchism, and one most misunderstood.
John Lennon's most famous song, Imagine, is the anarchist anthem.
Goldman's account of her life in agitation for her ideal is interesting for the tales of intolerance and brutality practised by the state - in this case, for most of the book, the state in question is the United States of America - and the suffocating bureaucracy inflicted on the starving of Lenin's post-revolution Russia, where getting a loaf of bread was almost an impossibility.
It matters not which state one is imprisoned by, the tactics to suppress opposition are hideous the world over. (The US passed laws making it illegal to oppose the war in Europe. By "oppose" the US meant not only resisting being recruited by the state into uniform, but speaking sentences of English that carried an anti-war message. It was illegal to say one opposed the war.)
Not just the political hierarchies which suppress opposition with ruthless bloodlust; the controllers of capital were just as murderous.
Berkman attempted the assassination of Henry Clay Frick, a steel magnate, for his ordering the killing of striking steel workers by the Pinkerton detective agency who had been hired to break the strike. Goldman attempted to prostitute herself to help raise funds to buy the gun.
Berkman failed and spent fourteen years in prison for his trouble. The surviving steel workers were re-hired with much reduced pay.
Goldman was imprisoned herself; once - though it may be hard to appreciate now - for having the temerity to distribute leaflets on the subject of birth-control. (State and religious hierarchies are intertwined tightly, both having the power to control thought and speech.)
They couldn't contain Emma Goldman, however, and after a by-the-numbers show-trial she was exiled to Russia.
After two years travelling the motherland, she and Berkman escaped the murder and starvation inflicted by the Bolsheviks and fled to Germany.
Hers is a story of human spirit; of fighting to the end, even to the death if necessary, in order to enlighten and educate the hypnotised masses.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2011
This book combines both volumes of Emma Goldman's extraordinary autobiography. Those who are interested in her will already doubtlessly know that she lived an incredible life - but unless you've read it in Emma's own words, it's impossible to grasp the breadth of all that she achieved. Her footprints can be found in every major struggle of the late-19th and early-20th centuries - that alone renders this an essential primary document of history.
Emma Goldman's voice was like no other. Even if you are not an anarchist, her impassioned beliefs and ability to argue them cannot fail to move.
Her journey from Russia to America back to Russia and then her last years in exile make for compelling reading. My highest recommendation to truth-seekers everywhere!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2013
really interesting description of emigre life in 1890s `U. S. A., and of the intolerance of activism there
Also of an era in which intelligent people were prepared to take direct action against injustice.
There are interesting parallels with 2013 - like the establishment branding those two Nigerians as "cowards"