After Sacco and Vanzetti, the most famous American anarchists are Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. Nowhere at Home is the story, told in their own words, of one of the most fascinating relationships of our time.
Born a year apart in nineteenth-century Russia, they both grew up in an atmosphere deeply responsive to the dramatic acts against the state committed by earlier anarchists and nihilists. Yet they were not fated to meet until the late 1880's as new Americans on New York's Lower East Side. They became lovers shortly after, and when Berkman, stung by the injustice of the Homestead Steel strike, decided to kill Henry Clay Frick in Pittsburgh on behalf of the workers, Emma did not hesitate to become a streetwalker to get money for the gun. He succeeded, however, only in wounding Frick. He was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison and served fourteen, after which he wrote the classic Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist. With his release and reunion with Emma in 1906, there ensued an intense period of public battling over the vital issues of free speech and political oppression in a professedly democratic America. Their agitation in World War I over the newly instituted draft law climaxed in arrest and two-year sentences. This is where we meet them in the opening pages of Nowhere at Home--Emma writes from her cell in Jefferson City, Missouri, Sasha from solitary confinement (for protesting a guard's murder of a black inmate) in Atlanta. They are about to be exiled, to become wanderers in Russia and Europe for the rest of their lives.
Goldman and Berkman were deported during the "Red Scare" of 1919, with the help of an especially zealous young U.S. official named J. Edgar Hoover. Their uninterrupted correspondence over the next decade and a half, until Berkman's suicide in Nice in 1936, provides an unparalleled commentary on the rise of bolshevism and fascism, on the plight of political prisoners in Soviet Russia, on the place of violence in revolution, on the relations of men and women, on dozens of their famous contemporary friends, lovers, and enemies, and on what Goldman and Berkman did better than almost anyone else--living without any compromises.
Despite police surveillance, public scorn, and the perfidy of comrades, they lived out their starveling portion of the Jazz Age with unwavering conviction in a better world. In Nowhere at Home, the day-to-day dimensions of that victory are detailed with an immediacy, a pointedness that the reader may find startling.
It is estimated that Emma Goldman alone wrote more than 200,000 letters and other correspondence. These letters of hers and Berkman's have been thoroughly culled by Richard and Anna Maria Drinnon from the archives of the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and have never been published before. Richard Drinnon has also written the definitive biography of Emma Goldman, Rebel in Paradise.
Nowhere at Home: Letters from Exile of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman
Schoken Books 1975
Used hardcover in very good condition