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on 11 May 2009
Michael Albert, a prolific radical writer on everything from economics to gender issues, history and physics, has published his memoirs under the title "Remembering Tomorrow". Although he himself admits that writing isn't his greatest asset, the book is very readable and accessible, and of direct interest to everyone with left-wing sympathies. Albert tells us everything, from his family background to his activism at MIT (where he was expelled for being succesful at resisting the Vietnam War), from his failed PhD attempt in Economics to his collective publishing undertaking known as South End Press, and much more.

The format of the book is a series of short vignettes, most of them no more than two or three pages, where Albert tells us of some experience he has had and the important lesson for left-wing activism he learned from it. Although many of these insights and experiences truly are useful and interesting to read (for me as a young leftist), it can get tiresome after a while: sometimes the "moral of the story" gets a little too pushy. Michael Albert also describes some of his theoretical work in colloquial terms, explaining why he ditched Marxism (in my view not a very convincing point), how he came to the theory of the "coordinator class" and its importance for his worldview, and the struggles he has had with academia. He has a remarkable array of friends who are well-known in left-wing circles, such as Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Howard Zinn, which lends additional color to the book. Also described are his many collaborations with his erstwhile best friend Robin Hahnel, many of which are quite good books - it is sad to read that their friendship has ended.

Albert's many experiences in leftist activism, which he has been involved in more or less non-stop for some four decades, are invaluable for radical thinkers and doers today. His criticisms of many persistent errors on the left, such as disdain for working-class interests and activities like sports and television, ring true, and the expansive amount of self-criticism in this book is commendable and rare for memoirs. The book could have used a better editor, though. There are some odd sentences here and there, some parts are quite repetitive, and thee are also absolutely baffling errors: for example, when Albert describes being given an award on behalf of the President of the Italian Republic (from context this seems to have been in 2004), he then comments that this was "at the time the proto-fascist Enrico Berlinguer". But Berlinguer was the chairman of the Communist Party of Italy, so not a "proto-fascist" by any stretch, had been dead for twenty years, and was never in his life President of Italy! In reality, the nonpartisan Carlo Azeglio Ciampi was President in 2004. This is just an example, but it shows that the book needed a double-checking before publishing. Otherwise, a good read.
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on 27 November 2016
Awesome book
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