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Memoirs of a Revolutionary (The Iowa Series in Literary Nonfiction) Paperback – 31 Dec 2002
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"An extraordinary time capsule from the darkest hours of the twentieth century. Although often compared to Orwell, Serge is a more noble and irreconcilable figure. This book--written as the GPU was exterminating the last of the Bolshevik old guard--is a fiery testament to political conscience and revolutionary hope. Through Serge, we know something of those gigantic but largely forgotten figures: the anarchist and communist opponents of Stalin."
Victor Serge (1890-1947) was an anarchist who initially supported the Russian Revolution. He was also a writer of integrity. This memoir is his story of how the Russian Revolution unfolded, swept up an entire nation, and eventually failed.
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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.
In the end what is there to say? Serge has to maintain a hope in humanity or else what was his life's work for? If this is what the very best minds of their generation could achieve it is hard to maintain that hope.
Amongst the heaps of garbage that are written about the Russian Revolution, the gems shine through and among the crown jewels stands Serge's 'Memoirs'.
Gone is the hackneyed lying about totalitarian conspiracies at the heart of Bolshevism, gone is the lie that the revolution wasn't a popular event, to be replaced by the memoirs of someone who was there and knew the truth: that the revolution was popular, that Bolshevism was not authoritarian and that the growth of authoritarianism was a consequence of events.
And superbly written.
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