- Paperback: 818 pages
- Publisher: PM Press; POLS edition (1 December 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1604860642
- ISBN-13: 978-1604860641
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 5.6 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,93,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Demanding The Impossible: A History of Anarchism Paperback – 1 Dec 2009
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Customers who bought this item also bought
"[This is] the book I always recommend when asked--as I often am--for something on the history and ideas of anarchism." --Noam Chomsky
"Blowing away cobwebs of misunderstanding and misrepresentation, this is a stimulating portrait of a highly varied but distinctive political ideal, tradition, and practice arising from the enduring human impulse to be free." --Publishers Weekly
"Large, labyrinthine, tentative: for me these are all adjectives of praise when applied to works of history, and [this book] meets all of them." --George Woodcock, Independent
"Attractively written and fully referenced . . . bound to be the standard history." --Colin Ward, Times Educational Supplement
"Though this highly engaging book can certainly be read from start to finish, I expect that its ultimate role in the average reader's life will be as a reference; not like an encyclopedia but rather more like a favorite author' collected works or a Bible: a massive repository of wisdom and of histories that might be otherwise lost to us." --Time Out New York
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In the second section of this text, Marshall finds antecedents to the ideas of anarchism in areas such as Taoism, Buddhism, ancient Greek philosophy, Christianity, the British Revolution, the French Renaissance and Enlightenment, and the British Enlightenment. Key ideas in each of these periods later were incorporated into anarchist thought.
Marshall then looks at a series of thinkers who, while not fully anarchist, nonetheless held libertarian ideas assimilated into anarchism, such as the Marquis de Sade in France, Nietzsche in Germany, and John Stuart Mill and Oscar Wilde in England. In a chapter on American precursors, Marshall cites Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
Following 188 pp of this prefatory material, Marshall then takes up the leading anarchist thinkers, beginning with Godwin and Stirner as Woodcock does, and includes chapters on Proudhon, Bakunin, and Kropotkin as both Guérin and Woodcock do. Marshall, however, goes into considerably more detail than either Guérin or Woodcock, providing a more complete portrait of each subject. Moreover, Marshall includes chapters on Recluse, Tolstoy, Emma Goldman and Gandhi.
As the Guérin and Woodcock texts do, Marshall then takes up the anarchist movements in various countries. All three cover France, Italy, Spain, Russia, and the United States, with a few paragraphs devoted to the rest of the world. Marshall provides richly detailed descriptions of these countries, and adds full chapters on Latin America and Asia.
Here Guérin and Woodcock stop, but Marshall continues, first with a global survey of anarchist thought and actions in the 20th Century, and concludes with two thoughtful chapters on the legacy of anarchism.
Marshall’s book must be viewed as the standard history of anarchism, and not merely because he includes a greater amount of material. The added material makes Marshall’s history more vivid and interesting, and this is exactly where Marshall’s work excels. He manages to find that fine line between inundating his reader with excessive detail, and leaving the reader thirsty for more given only limited material.
The writing is clear, precise, and understandable. Although he is dealing with the history of ideas, Marshall never falls into jargon. My interest in the reading never flagged, and now I’m feeling a little short-changed by both Guérin and Woodcock. Both now seem so inadequate when compared with the massive and monumental work by Marshall.
I recommend this book for those new to the subject wishing to learn about the topic of anarchism, as well as to those who may have a more advanced understanding. Marshall’s eruditon is such that even the advanced student is likely to gain something from reading this outstanding book.
I wish there was more on Malatesta and less on modern anarchic currents. Of course there were choices to be made and every author gives importance to what he feels more compelling.