ALEXANDER BERKMAN PRISON MEMOIRS OF AN ANARCHIST PDF

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Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist is Alexander Berkman's account of his experience in prison in Western Penitentiary of Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh, from to First published in by Emma Goldman's Mother Earth press, it has become a classic in autobiographical literature. Odins Library Classics is dedicated to bringing the world the best of humankinds literature from throughout the ages.

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Review this product Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Verified Purchase. The book is the account of the anarchist Alexander's Berkman's experiences in prison after his botched attempt to assassinate the industrialist Henry Clay Frick, the monster who "legally" slaughtered workers during the Homestead strike of Although Berkman never abandons his anarchist principles, he does soften his moral repugnance for criminals whose crimes were not motivated by political or humanitarian aims.

If anything his friendships with prisoners deepen his anarchist insights about how exploitation and poverty are the principal causes of criminal behavior. Like his lover Emma Goldman, he spends his prison years advocating for the needs of his fellow inmates, often being punished for his advocacy.

Berkman details the brutality, graft and corruption of the prison establishment. Anticipating Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, Berkman shows that those who view their punishment as a part of a larger purpose are best equipped to survive the inhuman treatment and conditions of prison life. The book is not all seriousness, however.

It often has lighter moments, as when Berkman describes the quixotic attempt by his friends to tunnel into the prison to free him. Berkman's sub rosa argument, made to Goldman, that Leon Czologosz's assassination of President McKinley lacked redeeming social value, unlike his Berkman's attempt to assassinate Frick, while though interesting fails to be convincing. Those interested in the relationship of these remarkable people Goldman and Berkman will especially want to read that section.

The book is worth reading not merely for its historical value but for its literary qualities as well. It is intelligently written and difficult to put down. Although it is pages, I read it all in three days. It is just that riveting.

Things have improved but we have a long way to go. In , Alexander Berkman burst into the office of Henry Frick, an overseer at Carnegie's steelworks, and attempted to gun him down to foment a revolutionary uprising. Frick survived. Berkman went to jail. Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist is Berkman's account, not only of the revolutionary ardor which drove him to assault Frick, but also of the horrors of incarceration and the transformation of his own thinking while behind bars.

We get plenty of revolutionary and anarchist theory from Berkman. He opens a door into the thoughts and feelings of people struggling for economic and social justice years ago. Why, the very life of a true revolutionist has no other purpose, no significance whatever, save to sacrifice it on the altar of the beloved People.

I am simply a revolutionist; a terrorist by conviction, an instrument for furthering the cause of humanity. He sees himself as better than they are, a Servant of Humanity, not a petty criminal, a predator on the poor. But, life in prison, although it does not shake his revolutionary and anarchist convictions, does bring him down from his ivory tower.

Berkman begins to see that: "The individual, in certain cases, is of more direct and immediate consequence than humanity. What is the latter but the aggregate of individual existences-and shall these, the best of them, forever be sacrificed for the metaphysical collectivity? He begins to differentiate between the autocratic despotism of Europe and the despotism of republican institutions: "The despotism of republican institutions is far deeper, more insidious, because it rests on the popular delusion of self-government and independence.

That is the subtle source of democratic tyranny, and, as such, it cannot be reached with a bullet. In modern capitalism, exploitation rather than oppression is the real enemy of the people Berkman reveals his inner processes during fourteen years of incarceration.

We discover, not only the horrors and corruption of the prison system, but also wander intimately through Berkman's mind. We visit his childhood, soften at unexpected gentlenesses behind bars, and begin to appreciate something as simple as the sunrise. Although Berkman did not write the memoir until after he left prison, it has a sense of surreal immediacy. He wrote in the present tense, but that alone does not account for the way his text grips, and drags the reader into the maelstrom of his experience.

We run with him through childhood memories, daily brutality, fantasies of escape and suicide, and the ideals that keep him sane. His longing for Emma Goldman shines through the text. He enthrones her almost as the guardian of his sanity through the years. Little can compare with the poignancy of his fantasy of mailing himself to his beloved Emma, escaping prison and finding himself with her again. Absolutely brilliant work, as relevant today as it was nearly years ago. In her autobiography, Living my Life, Emma Goldman recounted how Berkman saved his sanity and his life by writing this memoir.

The deep introspection, the flights of fancy, the accounting of prison life-all deeply illumine the best and the worst of human nature. This book is required reading for anybody who wishes to understand the fanatical, terrorist mindset, for Berkman describes that aptly.

Far more importantly, he shares the experience of survival and transformation. He, who entered prison a fanatic, left those iron gates more committed than ever to his cause, but no longer a fanatic. His story tells of graduating from terrorist to humanist, from monomaniacal fanatic to a deeply committed human being.

If you read nothing else this year, read this book. If you'd like to dialogue with me about this book or review, please click the "about me" link above and drop me an email.

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Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist

JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser. Berkman was unsuccessful. He spent the next fourteen years in prison, thirteen of them in Pennsylvania's notorious Western Penitentiary.

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Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist is Alexander Berkman 's account of his experience in prison in Western Penitentiary of Pennsylvania , in Pittsburgh , from to First published in [1] by Emma Goldman 's Mother Earth press, it has become a classic in autobiographical literature. The book begins with the details of how Berkman came to be imprisoned: as an anarchist activist, he had attempted to assassinate wealthy industrialist Henry Clay Frick , manager of the Carnegie steel works in Pennsylvania. Frick had been responsible for crushing the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers during the Homestead Strike , in which nine union workers and seven guards were killed. However, although Berkman shot Frick two times -Berkman was subdued before the third shot- and stabbed him several times in the leg with a poisoned knife, Frick survived, and Berkman was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Berkman had hoped to awaken the consciousness of the oppressed American people—an attentat —but, as the book goes on to detail, America lacked the political culture to interpret his actions. Even fellow prisoners from the union he was defending failed to see his political intent.

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Prison memoirs of an anarchist - Alexander Berkman

Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist is Alexander Berkman's account of his experience in prison in Western Penitentiary of Pennsylvania, in Pittsburgh, from to First published in by Emma Goldman's Mother Earth press, it has become a classic in autobiographical literature. Odins Library Classics is dedicated to bringing the world the best of humankinds literature from throughout the ages.

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