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“You damn bitch of an anarchist, I wish I could get at you. I would tear your heart out and feed it to my dog.” This was one of the less obscene messages received by Emma Goldman (1869-1940), while in jail on suspicion of complicity in the assassination of McKinley. The most notorious woman of her day, she was bitterly hated by millions and equally revered by millions. The “You damn bitch of an anarchist, I wish I could get at you. I would tear your heart out and feed it to my dog.” This was one of the less obscene messages received by Emma Goldman (1869-1940), while in jail on suspicion of complicity in the assassination of McKinley. The most notorious woman of her day, she was bitterly hated by millions and equally revered by millions. The strong feelings she aroused are understandable. She was an alien, a practicing anarchist, a labor agitator, a pacifist in World War 1, an advocate of political violence, a feminist, a proponent of free love and birth control, a communist, a street-fighter for justice — all of which she did with strong intellect and boundless passion. Today, of course, many of the issues that she fought over are just as vital as they were then. Emma Goldman came from Russia at the age of 17. After an encounter with the sweatshop and an unfortunate marriage, she plunged into the bewildering intellectual and activist chaos that attended American social evolution around the turn of the twentieth century. She knew practically everyone of importance in radical circles. She dominated many areas of the radical movement, lecturing, writing, haranguing, and publishing to awaken the world to her ideas. After World War I she was deported to Russia, where she soon discovered that anarchists were no better liked than in America, despite Lenin’s first gesture of welcome. She escaped with her life but never was allowed to return to the United States. Emma Goldman was a devastatingly honest woman, who spared herself as little as she spared anyone else. From her account the reader can gain insight into a curious personality type of recurrent interest: a woman who devoted her life to eliminating suffering, yet could make a bomb or assist in staging an assassination. Equally interesting are her comments on other radicals of the period, such as Kropotkin, Berkman, Mooney, Lenin, Trotsky, Haywood, Most, the Haymarket martyrs, and many others. Her autobiography, written with vigor, ranks among the finest in the English language.


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“You damn bitch of an anarchist, I wish I could get at you. I would tear your heart out and feed it to my dog.” This was one of the less obscene messages received by Emma Goldman (1869-1940), while in jail on suspicion of complicity in the assassination of McKinley. The most notorious woman of her day, she was bitterly hated by millions and equally revered by millions. The “You damn bitch of an anarchist, I wish I could get at you. I would tear your heart out and feed it to my dog.” This was one of the less obscene messages received by Emma Goldman (1869-1940), while in jail on suspicion of complicity in the assassination of McKinley. The most notorious woman of her day, she was bitterly hated by millions and equally revered by millions. The strong feelings she aroused are understandable. She was an alien, a practicing anarchist, a labor agitator, a pacifist in World War 1, an advocate of political violence, a feminist, a proponent of free love and birth control, a communist, a street-fighter for justice — all of which she did with strong intellect and boundless passion. Today, of course, many of the issues that she fought over are just as vital as they were then. Emma Goldman came from Russia at the age of 17. After an encounter with the sweatshop and an unfortunate marriage, she plunged into the bewildering intellectual and activist chaos that attended American social evolution around the turn of the twentieth century. She knew practically everyone of importance in radical circles. She dominated many areas of the radical movement, lecturing, writing, haranguing, and publishing to awaken the world to her ideas. After World War I she was deported to Russia, where she soon discovered that anarchists were no better liked than in America, despite Lenin’s first gesture of welcome. She escaped with her life but never was allowed to return to the United States. Emma Goldman was a devastatingly honest woman, who spared herself as little as she spared anyone else. From her account the reader can gain insight into a curious personality type of recurrent interest: a woman who devoted her life to eliminating suffering, yet could make a bomb or assist in staging an assassination. Equally interesting are her comments on other radicals of the period, such as Kropotkin, Berkman, Mooney, Lenin, Trotsky, Haywood, Most, the Haymarket martyrs, and many others. Her autobiography, written with vigor, ranks among the finest in the English language.

30 review for Living My Life, Vol. 1

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    I was to speak on the futility of the struggle for the eight-hour workday, now again much discussed in labour ranks. He pointed out that the eight-hour campaigns in '84, '85, and '86 had already taken a toll far beyond the value of the "damned thing." "Our comrades in Chicago lost their lives for it, and the workers still work long hours." History does not make one money. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the subject popularly reviled, I wouldn't need to work a second job. It isn't eng I was to speak on the futility of the struggle for the eight-hour workday, now again much discussed in labour ranks. He pointed out that the eight-hour campaigns in '84, '85, and '86 had already taken a toll far beyond the value of the "damned thing." "Our comrades in Chicago lost their lives for it, and the workers still work long hours." History does not make one money. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the subject popularly reviled, I wouldn't need to work a second job. It isn't engineering, or science, or a career in medicine, and the fact that a potentially equally lucrative career in law, closer to history than all the others, is not commonly passed around between the education portfolios of egregiously eager parents is rather telling. Without history, we train bourgeoisie children into bourgeoisie child adults that take their existence for granted, chafing at taxes and politics while indulging in their lunch break, their eight-hour workday, their overtime, their weekends, their Title VII, their legal protections, all won on the bloody backbone of unions, anarchists, and the other historically erased when it comes time to cover US history, especially at the late nineteenth and early turn of the 20th century. Many of these child adults become bourgeoisie voters, a few here and there become bourgeoisie politicians, even fewer become the bourgeoisie president, and the federal funding for public schooling trickles down with an emphasis on the grades, the improvement percentages, the STEM, rather than the knowledge of one's rights, the appreciation of how those rights came to be, the skill set to recognize when those rights are being violated, and the commitment to assert those rights in concert with others in the public scene. Of what avail are lofty ideals, I wondered. The government clerk who dares put himself above the hod-carrier; the respectable pillar of society, to whom free love is only a means for clandestine affairs—both readers of Reitzel, the brilliant rebel and idealist! The British bourgeoisie has good reason to fear the spread of discontent, and political liberties are the best security against it. It is collective action that is the most threatening to the established status quo, so the police brigades that met Goldman across the states and the 'First Amendment Zones' that encountered incipient Black Lives Matter efforts should be expected, yes? Same with the systematic devaluing of unions and Human Resources, promotion of literature that focuses on the single fire bomber and ignores the Pinkertons and militias both government and corporate, and a general reorienting of employee frustrations that devolve into many an amusing, if desperate, railing against capitalism that would be an awakening if it weren't so mired in fawning bootlicking. I deserve rights, and those rights will be magically handed down at the appropriate time just as all the other were, regardless of the histories of my own country and the present legal states of others. As we know, the current United States is the best, and any communal effort to learn from each other and from history across the world and put it into direct action is whiny at best and terrorism at worst. So, when it comes to history, why bother? I was sure that no one, be it individual or government, engaged in enslaving and exploiting at home, could have the integrity or the desire to free people in other lands. This is the first volume of Emma Goldman's autobiography. The entire work weighs in at a tad more than a thousand pages, but my experience with similarly sized works of literature that have all been packaged in a single tome lets me know that it is the content, not the length, that shears off near 400 pages off of the pretty Penguin Classics edition, which on this site has twice the ratings of this unabridged Volume One and and 93% of the ones for the supposedly 'complete' edition. Reading this at my age, it'd be easy to feel intimidated by the difference in my accomplishments by the age of twenty-eight compared to that of Goldman. However, the worth of this text is the author's honesty, and I can observe in fine detail the severe differences in situation, motivation, ability, and, honestly, sheer luck that divided Goldman's living her life and my reading about it. The steel-foundries belched huge flames that reflected the Allegheny hills blood-red and filled the air with soot and smoke. We made our way past the sheds where human beings, half man, half beast, were working like the galley-slaves of an era long past. Their naked bodies, covered only with small trunks, shone like copper in the glare of the red-hot chunks of iron they were snatching from the mouths of the flaming monsters. From time to time the steam rising from the water thrown on the hot metal would completely envelop the men; then they would emerge again like shadows. “The children of hell,” I said, “damned to the everlasting inferno of heat and noise.” I can pick and choose what is useful and what is not for my own purposes and pass along my judgments accordingly, measuring on a historical ruler what I expected and what I didn't from a person of this time, sometimes qualifying Goldman on being Jewish and a woman, sometimes not. Every so often I recognize a personage, such as Emily Homes Coleman, writer of The Shuttering of Snow and editor of Goldman's work, or Nellie Bly, disparaged by Goldman as lacking the "better intellect" and "finer social feeling" of her journalistic contemporary, Katherine Leckie. The latter especially drives home how history, even when emphasized, will carefully appraise the proper ratio of famous non-white boy personas to a particular segment of history: taking women for an example, one white one will do for the entirety of the pre-18th century, a couple more here and there up until the twentieth, which receives its baker's dozen and a token non-white for the effort. Goldman herself had a particular pattern of pointing out "Negroes" as actively benefiting from white liberal capitalism in at least two instances in this section of her autobiography, and her relegating Lucy Parsons as the "mulatto wife" who occupies a mere few pages during the course of her husband's memorial may have been due to their disagreement over free love as part of anarchistic principle, maybe not. Those 'children' Goldman describes above were composed of more than a few black men as attested to by Attaway's Blood on the Forge , and other than a commentary on being asked to avoid the 'race question' when speaking in the South, the post-Civil War, post-Reconstruction area of government-reviled social movements is surprisingly European. An indication for me to do further critical reading, then. [N]ot being puritanical does not always mean being free. The description by some of the anonymous writers of what they would do to me sexually offered studies in perversion that would have astounded authorities on the subject. The authors of the letters nevertheless seemed to me less contemptible than the police officials. Daily I was handed stacks of letters that had been opened and read by the guardians of American decency and morality. At the same time messages from my friends were withheld from me. Outside of some criticisms, we have a vital, credible, and exhaustive record of the sociopolitical heartbeat of a settler state, half a century after its outlawing of slavery and however many centuries before its payment of reparations in forms both monetary and revolutionary. Goldman is no coward, and her following her conscience, and every so often her heart, causes ripples in the international landscape that are sometimes surprising, always extremely informative, and every so often recognizable when comparing the government's of yesteryear to the United States democratic republic/authoritarian oligarchy of today. I haven't yet reached the World War I era, and Goldman does not survive the World War II era, so I have not been able to rely on my customary learning crutches when imbibing all that happened since 1889, when a twenty-year-old Emma Goldman, soon to be Emma Kushner, soon after that to be Emma Goldman once again, stepped off the walkway of a ship and onto the soil of the United States. The fact that I am witnessing firsthand the normalization of eugenics and selective, passive euthanasia in mainstream consciousness, the natural result when a pandemic strikes a society where unthinking worship of capitalism and voting are the heights of human collaboration, didn't help my comfort levels either. However, disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed, yes? If only I didn't have so many good reasons for finding other human beings so draining to deal with. [B]etter people die on the gallows than in palaces. No doubt that is the reason why you all feel so sympathetic to the dead. You know you'll never be called upon to make good your protestations. Onto Volume Two.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    “For the Cause, I was told, one must be able to do everything, and I so eagerly wanted to serve the Cause.” Whatever your ideals, the story of Emma Goldman’s life is inspiring. It makes you want to grab hold of your own life and fight for what you believe. This is an immensely readable book. It’s full of history, adventure, unusual personalities, romances and life and death suspense. The writing is excellent. One of the things I most admired was the matter-of-fact tone she used, whether she was re “For the Cause, I was told, one must be able to do everything, and I so eagerly wanted to serve the Cause.” Whatever your ideals, the story of Emma Goldman’s life is inspiring. It makes you want to grab hold of your own life and fight for what you believe. This is an immensely readable book. It’s full of history, adventure, unusual personalities, romances and life and death suspense. The writing is excellent. One of the things I most admired was the matter-of-fact tone she used, whether she was relaying her accomplishments or her mistakes. The story begins with her arrival in the United States in 1889, shortly after the Haymarket riots in Chicago. That event made a huge impact on her, and she walks us through the development of her philosophy and activism. She often writes of working “for my ideal.” It struck me that hers was a positive rather than negative stance. We often fight against things, but how often do we fight for something, let alone for our ideal? What might we accomplish if we did? This volume ends with an attack by vigilantes in San Diego, her lover abducted and tortured, and death threats when she continues on to Seattle. I’m on the edge of my seat as I look forward to Volume 2!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Miquixote

    When reading this, it is often suggested to make sure to read it as the life of a speaker and activist, not as a philosophical or theoretical masterpiece. I however believe Goldman's theoretical contributions are also invaluable. It is important to realize that the exposition of Goldman's theories in this book are developmental, as it is an autobiography. The book clearly and in a detailed way show how Goldman progresses from more infantile ideals to more complex. In fact, by the end of the book When reading this, it is often suggested to make sure to read it as the life of a speaker and activist, not as a philosophical or theoretical masterpiece. I however believe Goldman's theoretical contributions are also invaluable. It is important to realize that the exposition of Goldman's theories in this book are developmental, as it is an autobiography. The book clearly and in a detailed way show how Goldman progresses from more infantile ideals to more complex. In fact, by the end of the book I see her theories as infinitely superior to Lenin's (that supposed genius). We won't even go into the chasms between the two in practice or compassion. The most popular theoretical credits that Goldman gets are for significantly influencing activism on issues of sexual liberty, reproductive rights, and freedom of expression. For this she is often loved by the women's movement, and was reincarnated in the 1970s. But this book will show that she was influential with much more than that (although the aforementioned influence would be more than enough to justify the reading of this historically invaluable autobiography). Her influences are manifold: not only on sexual liberty, reproductive rights, marriage, free love, homosexuality rights, and freedom of expression. But also on prisons, atheism, militarism, and of course capitalism in general. Of interest is that she was finally kicked out of the US during a hysterical jingoist period of militarism (just after World War 1). (Wait a second...has that hysterical jingoism stopped yet?) She was sent to Russia for being a mass agitator concerning any of the above mentioned issues, but it could very well have been her anti-militarist stance that gave the most impetus to getting her booted. Neither to be underestimated is her influence on the value of aesthetics. Anarchism and the arts are inextricably linked with no minor input from Goldman. It is no coincidence that her most famous quotes are the following: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution." Her inalienable belief in "the right to self-expression, the right to beautiful, radiant things" is above and beyond the typical revolutionist. I for one think this smashes austere denials of life and joy that are so common in revolutionary movements (not to mention religions). All in all, this work is most obviously inspirational, fascinating and honest. Although other adjectives that are often used by a quick look through other reviewers are: incisive, reflective, passionate, engaging, amazing, uncompromising, important,informative, funny, incredible, riveting, and beautiful. The one important thing missing here is an emphasis on race, which as some have already pointed out is something odd. But even more odd is how people like to assume that if her emphasis was not on race that we should consider her irrelevant. As integral as race is to leftist theory and practice, there are plenty of other issues that can also be focussed on to positively contribute to liberatory ideals. Some minor quibbles: There is a fair amount of name-dropping, and it is easy to get a bit lost about the sheer quantity of people in her life. The book has no ending, and I would really like to know about her contributions to the Spanish Civil War...For that I am told that one must read Richard Drinnon's and Alice Wexler's biographies of Emma. I suppose it could be also possible for the lyrical or literary types to be critical of lyrical qualites and literary conventions, or propensity for emotional outbursts. But I guarantee Emma didn't live an emotionally vacuous life like most of us, so I will excuse her. Another criticism is that the book (2 volumes) is too long (at 1,000 pages). It has been said that the abridged version is too jarring though, and I do think Emma's life is quite worth the extra effort. It is the kind of book that everybody could read to learn from. A book devoted to solving some of the hardest complications of a life being lived to the utmost. The kind of complications that one can have between theory and practice, ideal and reality. Was Emma too utopian, messianic, too idealistic? Oh, that is one of the main reasons for reading this, to find that out. So I won't spoil it...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    this is so good. I was always a bit "eh" on Emma Goldman because I read her essays and didn't find them earth-shattering. Plus I don't always agree with her political analysis -- her race-blind attitude was particularly unfortunate. You could say it was par for the times, but she was so far ahead on so much else that I expected more -- and anyway that's rubbish, lots of people critiqued her race politics at the time. That said, it turns out that Goldman's strength was not as a theorist but as an this is so good. I was always a bit "eh" on Emma Goldman because I read her essays and didn't find them earth-shattering. Plus I don't always agree with her political analysis -- her race-blind attitude was particularly unfortunate. You could say it was par for the times, but she was so far ahead on so much else that I expected more -- and anyway that's rubbish, lots of people critiqued her race politics at the time. That said, it turns out that Goldman's strength was not as a theorist but as an activist and generally fascinating human being. Her autobiography is an incredibly interesting depiction of radical politics in the USA and Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Goldman knew a lot of interesting people, and it's very strange and humanising to read about her trying and failing to make friends with one famous anarchist, or having a bitter breakup with another. Plus she avoids the common tendency of autobiography to obscure the actual process of development. Everything is told in the present tense, with virtually no indication of what's later to come. She'll talk about this great guy she met, or what she thinks about an issue, and you'll be like "Emma! He's kind of a fuckwit!" or "no! that's silly!" and you have to read the next fifty pages to know if she ends up thinking that too. Totally engaging and heartwrenching.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I very, very rarely get seriously into a biography/autobiography. I've almost always just found them boring. This one is a glaring exception to that rule. Goldman's writing is engaging and interesting. Plus, her story is just so dang FASCINATING. This woman was involved in some serious stuff; it is amazing to read about all the radicals she worked with, how they lived their lives, how they related to one another. I am enthralled by her descriptions of what it was like to speak to a roaring crowd I very, very rarely get seriously into a biography/autobiography. I've almost always just found them boring. This one is a glaring exception to that rule. Goldman's writing is engaging and interesting. Plus, her story is just so dang FASCINATING. This woman was involved in some serious stuff; it is amazing to read about all the radicals she worked with, how they lived their lives, how they related to one another. I am enthralled by her descriptions of what it was like to speak to a roaring crowd of thousands - it makes me really, really miss the speech competitions I used to be involved in. But her life was also so much more than that of a radical activist - this woman loved, suffered heartbreak, faced physical torment, experienced familial strife, had to move around like crazy - there is so, so much to relate to. I love reading her introspection regarding The Cause - can a true believer have outside interests? Should personal relationships and desires take a backseat to The Work? How do you work with people who are fighting for the same short-term goal, but with whom you have grave disagreements over the final project? What kinds of actions are appropriate for bringing about sweeping change? I have talked about some of these very issues for hours upon hours with my friends - it is reassuring and *cozy* to know that they were working through the same issues over 100 years ago. I do wish she gave a bit more theory about her beliefs, instead of just running through the historical occurrences, throwing out names and places and events and ideas like the reader is totally familiar with them. (What on earth is a single-taxer? Off to Wikipedia!) I am not well-versed in anarchism as a philosophy, and this book doesn't do much of the leg-work for educating one about it. All in all, very pleased. I expected this to be a good "bed-time" book - something to read when I'm going to sleep cuz it'll make me feel all drowsy. Who knew autobiography could be a page-turner? On to volume 2!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    EG is a total badass. Love her. Few people are as true to their convictions as she. A free spirit, an idealist, an intellectual, and a fighter, EG is a pretty good writer to boot. In her autobiography she not only chronicles the details of her polemic public life, but also intimately bares her internal struggles with the tensions and contradictions between her intellectual principles and her heartfelt emotions. It is sometimes hard to believe that this is not the stuff of fiction.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This book is Part One of a memoir of the "notorious" (or famous) Emma Goldman, a Russian-Jewish anarchist active in New York City and other parts of the US in the late 19th and early 20th century. Goldman masterfully brings the period and her political activities to life, drawing even a critical reader in to the fascinating world of immigrant activism and agitation. Goldman made extensive use of letters and newspaper clippings, as well as other primary sources, to refresh her memory of dates and This book is Part One of a memoir of the "notorious" (or famous) Emma Goldman, a Russian-Jewish anarchist active in New York City and other parts of the US in the late 19th and early 20th century. Goldman masterfully brings the period and her political activities to life, drawing even a critical reader in to the fascinating world of immigrant activism and agitation. Goldman made extensive use of letters and newspaper clippings, as well as other primary sources, to refresh her memory of dates and specifics, which raises this above the level of most memoirs in terms of its value to the historian. Of course, it is told from the perspective of a participant with the benefit of hindsight, and thus is not strictly "objective," but this is arguably true of any source written after the fact. This volume follows Goldman from her political awakening at the age of seventeen in 1886 through about 1911, when she was engaged in a speaking tour across the United States and hounded by violent patriotic "Vigilantes." 1886, of course, was the year of the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, when several anarchist and labor speakers were accused of throwing a bomb at police who were breaking up a meeting in favor of the 40-hour work week. With virtually no evidence against them, eight anarchists were tried for murder, and four executed. This galvanized the radical community and became a symbol of the uneven struggle between Labor and its oppressors. Goldman describes her own anguish at hearing the news, and her drive to become involved in fighting the crimes of the State. In the process she met Johann Most, a disfigured German anarchist who advocated fighting back in the most uncompromising manner, Alexander Berkman, who would shoot the millionaire Frick in 1892 and spend much of his life in prison, and Ben Reitman, the "hobo doctor" who was the love of Goldman's life. Goldman traces her coming into being as a political leader alongside her awakening sexuality and realization of sexism in the radical milieu of her day. This book is likely the source of Goldman's apocryphal quote: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution!" as she describes her clashes with overly-serious-minded radicals over her choices of recreation. Considering the time at which she wrote, Goldman was quite frank about her lovers and her commitment to free love (although by later standards she might appear rather discreet). Her insights into progressive, socialist, and labor politics are sharp and incisive, often foreshadowing failings that would haunt the Left to this day, and her descriptions of important historical figures she knew are colorful and fascinating. This book is recommended for anyone with an interest in the developing politics of America or a love of history.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Florence

    Volume 1: Emma's turbulent life (1869-1940)is spell binding. Her admirable determination and strong fighting spirit enabled her to travel about and lecture during the 20th century as an anarchist and feminist. She spent time in prison for her efforts and her strong beliefs. She tells her life story here, how she lectured wherever she could, when she could, in many parts of the world. She dealt with a maize of stumbling blocks. Her fight for free speech was continual. Often her efforts were based Volume 1: Emma's turbulent life (1869-1940)is spell binding. Her admirable determination and strong fighting spirit enabled her to travel about and lecture during the 20th century as an anarchist and feminist. She spent time in prison for her efforts and her strong beliefs. She tells her life story here, how she lectured wherever she could, when she could, in many parts of the world. She dealt with a maize of stumbling blocks. Her fight for free speech was continual. Often her efforts were based on goals such as raising funds to help victims of oppression. Her humanity is shown through the introduction of stories about her family, friends and associates who were a big part of her life. I am moving on to Vol.2.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Torkel

    Great autobiography by an extraordinary woman. Not only a gripping read but also works as a great history book of early workers rights activism in the united states. Interesting how freedom of speech was so suppressed during this period (end of 1800 and the beginning of 1900). Is also gives a picture of early 20th century international political history. Will definitely read Vol 2.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    Goldman's style is simple but compelling; I went out in search of the second volume immediately after finishing the first. It's fascinating to see the labor disputes and political issues of the late 19th century/early 20th from her perspective, and if you want a real taste of the many ways in which the US has used incredible physical force to punish those with 'unconventional' ideas, it would be hard to find as interesting a collection as Goldman amassed throughout her life. The part I'd recommend Goldman's style is simple but compelling; I went out in search of the second volume immediately after finishing the first. It's fascinating to see the labor disputes and political issues of the late 19th century/early 20th from her perspective, and if you want a real taste of the many ways in which the US has used incredible physical force to punish those with 'unconventional' ideas, it would be hard to find as interesting a collection as Goldman amassed throughout her life. The part I'd recommend for almost anyone is the enormous "chapter" (well over 100 pages in length) in the second vlume on her time in Russia, not long after the revolution, under Lenin's rule. It's fascinating on a number of levels: first, just for being a first-hand account of the beginnings of the Soviet Union; second, to see the personal process of someone coming to terms with the failure of their own knowledge, and of possible inconsistencies in their political ideologies (especially in terms of the concepts of 'revolution' and international 'solidarity'), as Goldman turns from a staunch supporter of the Bolsheviki to an ardent critic; third, as an exploration of the idea of 'revolution' and what it is meant to achieve; fourth, as a chronicle of the psychology of resistance and submission under dictatorship; and last, as a critical view of the role of concentrated state power under socialism. Beyond that, it's just engaging autobiographical writing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Artnoose McMoose

    When my friends and I go around in a circle and say how they got into anarchism, I say through this book. I read it when I first moved away to the big city, and it was the perfect book to read at that time. Changed my life, although would you believe I never did get around to reading volume 2? *** More recent review: I reread this for the monthly anarchist reading group here in Pittsburgh, and it was my first time reading it in 15 years. I had marveled at Emma's remarkable life when I was in my v When my friends and I go around in a circle and say how they got into anarchism, I say through this book. I read it when I first moved away to the big city, and it was the perfect book to read at that time. Changed my life, although would you believe I never did get around to reading volume 2? *** More recent review: I reread this for the monthly anarchist reading group here in Pittsburgh, and it was my first time reading it in 15 years. I had marveled at Emma's remarkable life when I was in my very early 20s, how varied a life could be. Reading it now was a totally different experience now that I have had a lot more experience. I'm still amazed at the variety of things she did, and the amount of lovers she had. I'm comforted in the fact that she also had longstanding enemies and lived to tell the tale. I mean heck--- she effin' horsewhipped Johann Most because of a disagreement, and he never spoke to her again! I'm not saying I'm as awesome as Emma Goldman, but reading this book a second time gave me the perspective of looking at a life as a narrative. Even really bad breakups don't even take up a whole chapter. Maybe later it'll all make a great story, and that's what I try to keep in mind when everything seems terrible.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maud

    THIS BOOK WAS SO INTENSE!! EG is truly an inspiration, as well as a good writer. It's a long book and full of every detail but she keeps yr interest with her bold, clear narrative voice - i assume the same compelling voice that swayed many of her contemporaries at her lectures. i found myself reading my life and my friends' lives into her own tale and having to step back from that self-importance and odd delusion - it was really just that vivid. EG is still a somewhat divisive character (and, surp THIS BOOK WAS SO INTENSE!! EG is truly an inspiration, as well as a good writer. It's a long book and full of every detail but she keeps yr interest with her bold, clear narrative voice - i assume the same compelling voice that swayed many of her contemporaries at her lectures. i found myself reading my life and my friends' lives into her own tale and having to step back from that self-importance and odd delusion - it was really just that vivid. EG is still a somewhat divisive character (and, surprisingly to me, not so well known to everyone) but you can't doubt the strength or beauty of her ideals. Autobiographies can sometimes feel a bit fake and untrustworthy but there even seemed to be a fairness in her ability to criticize herself. I'm going to take a break before moving on to Volume 2 of her autobiography, just because it's so dense, but i relish in having read this first volume. I hope i can take some of her bravery, determination and compassion with me moving forward. Highly, highly recommended - it is especially important to read the words of people we so often only learn of secondhand.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julian

    I can't believe it took me so long to read this given that I love autobiographies and this one is regarded as such a classic. Maybe the length of Emma's work made me apprehensive. Anyways, reading about her life was pretty incredible and insightful, and fulfilled my desire to read about anarchist history in a way that wasn't boring. I was particularly engrossed by how much detail she provides on her relationships, but this seamlessly weaves in and out of her anarchism. And she lived with two lov I can't believe it took me so long to read this given that I love autobiographies and this one is regarded as such a classic. Maybe the length of Emma's work made me apprehensive. Anyways, reading about her life was pretty incredible and insightful, and fulfilled my desire to read about anarchist history in a way that wasn't boring. I was particularly engrossed by how much detail she provides on her relationships, but this seamlessly weaves in and out of her anarchism. And she lived with two lovers at once! Even our contemporary ga-ga for open-relationships scene would raise an eyebrow at something like this. I could talk about the rest of this book for a long time, so I'll just leave it there.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea

    What an amazing life! And I'm only have way through! This is an incredible read. What strikes me is that in my encounters with people talking about Emma Goldman--people who haven't read her actual work or those that simply repeat what they have heard from others--is how she is usually cornered into one essential archetype; what I love about reading these volumes is running into the contradictions and the consistencies in her own work and life and how not even Emma Goldman was a perfect human. Ot What an amazing life! And I'm only have way through! This is an incredible read. What strikes me is that in my encounters with people talking about Emma Goldman--people who haven't read her actual work or those that simply repeat what they have heard from others--is how she is usually cornered into one essential archetype; what I love about reading these volumes is running into the contradictions and the consistencies in her own work and life and how not even Emma Goldman was a perfect human. Otherwise, it's an incredible history and has given me some incredible insight. Anyone who tells you Emma hated Rochester, NY hasn't read this autobiography. I highly recommend this work!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carmilla Voiez

    An awe inspiring read. The witty and conversational style of Emma Goldman's autobiography cannot mask what an intelligent and amazing woman she was. Ahead of her time, in fact probably ahead of our time, she was a pioneer in politics and the women's movement. With commentary on the historically important events of her time this book is both enchanting and educational with more than a slight bias away from the more traditional and institutionally approved texts. I look forward to getting my hands An awe inspiring read. The witty and conversational style of Emma Goldman's autobiography cannot mask what an intelligent and amazing woman she was. Ahead of her time, in fact probably ahead of our time, she was a pioneer in politics and the women's movement. With commentary on the historically important events of her time this book is both enchanting and educational with more than a slight bias away from the more traditional and institutionally approved texts. I look forward to getting my hands on volume 2.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This is a long and involved read; it is also an excellent one. Emma Goldman had a singular personality, and the list of her accomplishments is incredible. There is a lot to digest in this book, including the lot of immigrants in late-19th century America; the history of the anarchist movement; and the difficulties that a strong-minded woman met growing up at this time. I really enjoyed this, and I look forward to reading the second volume next year.

  17. 4 out of 5

    HeavyReader

    This is a dense autobiography which somehow manages to be both intersting and nap inducing. Maybe it's the 19th century writing style that put me to sleep. Maybe i was overwhelmed by the large number of pages in this book (and this is only volume 1!). In any case, through sheer force of will, I read the whole thing. This is a dense autobiography which somehow manages to be both intersting and nap inducing. Maybe it's the 19th century writing style that put me to sleep. Maybe i was overwhelmed by the large number of pages in this book (and this is only volume 1!). In any case, through sheer force of will, I read the whole thing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sophia Hernandez

    My father gave me this autobiography when I was 13. For better or worse it has shaped my entire life This is one of the most beautiful revolutionary perspectives from the Industrial Age. What Emma Gloldman and Alexander Berkman were propelled to do in the name of social change is the stuff of fairy tales.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jaindoh

    Enjoyed this more than I thought I would ! Originally started reading it as an academic exercise and to find out some background behind historical events at the time, but Goldman is an engaging writer . Never realised she was so vociferous about birth control and non-monogamy . Will continue to Volume 2 when I get my hands on it !

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    one of the books that changed my life. although i don't agree with everything emma did or said, she was so inspirational and strong. and definitely lived HER life. which not a lot of us can say about ourselves. one of the books that changed my life. although i don't agree with everything emma did or said, she was so inspirational and strong. and definitely lived HER life. which not a lot of us can say about ourselves.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mirza Sultan-Galiev

    She traveled around the country, had a lot of boy toys and best of all, had nothing insightful to say about class, race or settler colonialism in America (read her complaints about black prisoners in a work otherwise totally devoid of a examination of race and cringe).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    High school. This book is written as an autobiography and covers the life of Emma Goldman. The language of the book is extremely passionate and written in a descriptive and approachable language. This book would be used during a contemporary U.S history course for labor and immigration issues.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    inspiring for any woman (or anyone) who wants to act out of passion, not obligation. Here's a woman who lived her life that way. inspiring for any woman (or anyone) who wants to act out of passion, not obligation. Here's a woman who lived her life that way.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leilani

    everyone should read both volumes of this book. It gives you a ringside glimpse at some of the most important political events of the 20th century.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Autobiography of Emma Goldman was a riveting read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    Emma Goldman is an amazing orgnanizer and speaker, and this book mostly chronicles her peronal experiences and journals. Great reading, but unfortunately doesn't include many of her speeches. Emma Goldman is an amazing orgnanizer and speaker, and this book mostly chronicles her peronal experiences and journals. Great reading, but unfortunately doesn't include many of her speeches.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elisa Berry

    She's just the best. Read it. She's just the best. Read it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I love this book for its wonderfully dramatic writing style, sucha delightful product of its time.

  29. 5 out of 5

    David

    An amazing woman, an amazing human being, and a very good writer. So refreshing to find someone who truly lives their life with the courage of their convictions

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    Captivating. Couldn't put it down. Emma's writing draws me in like no other. Captivating. Couldn't put it down. Emma's writing draws me in like no other.

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