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Living My Life (Penguin Classics) Paperback – Abridged, 28 Sep 2006
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Anarchist, journalist, drama critic, advocate of birth control and free love, Emma Goldman was the most famous - and notorious - woman in the early twentieth century. This abridged version of her two-volume autobiography takes her from her birthplace in czarist Russia to the socialist enclaves of Manhattan's Lower East Side. Against a dramatic backdrop of political argument, show trials, imprisonment, and tempestuous romances, Goldman chronicles the epoch that she helped shape: the reform movements of the Progressive Era, the early years of and later disillusionment with Lenin's Bolshevik experiment, and more. Sounding a call still heard today, "Living My Life" is a riveting account of political ferment and ideological turbulence.
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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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"
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.
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