Alexander Berkman was a twentieth-century American revolutionary. Like the abolitionist John Brown before him, Berkman was hugely idealistic, ready to go to the furthest extreme of self-sacrifice and violence on behalf of justice and civil rights. He decided to assassinate industrialist Henry Clay Frick after reading in the newspaper that Pinkertons hired by Frick had opened fire on the Homestead strikers, killing men, women, and children. Berkman’s bungled attempt cost him fifteen years in a federal penitentiary. Upon his release, he became an effective agitator against conscription and was again imprisoned and eventually deported to Russia, where he saw at first hand the early days of Bolshevism. Berkman’s writings remain a lasting and impassioned record of intense political transformation. Featuring a new introduction by Howard Zinn, Life of an Anarchist contains Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist, Berkman’s account of his years in prison; The Bolshevik Myth, his eyewitness account of the early days of the Russian Revolution; and The ABC of Anarchism, the classic text on the nature of anarchism in the twentieth century. Also included are a selection of letters between Berkman and his lifelong companion Emma Goldman, and a generous sampling from Berkman’s other publications.
The visionary historical work of professor and activist HOWARD ZINN (1922–2010) is widely considered one of the most important and influential of our era. After his experience as a bombardier in World War II, Zinn became convinced that there could no longer be such a thing as a “just war,” because the vast majority of victims in modern warfare are, increasingly, innocent civilians. In his books, including A People’s History of the United States, its companion volume Voices of a People’s History of the United States, and countless other titles, Zinn affirms the power of the people to influence the course of events.