Sam Dolgoff, a house painter by trade, was at the center of American anarchism for seventy years. His political voyage began in the 1920s when he joined the Industrial Workers of the World. He rode the rails as an itinerant laborer, bedding down in hobo camps and mounting soapboxes in cities across the United States. Self-educated, he translated, edited, and wrote some of the most important books and journals of twentieth-century anti-authoritarian politics, including the most widely read collection of Mikhail Bakunin's writings in English.
His story, told with passion and humor by his son, conjures images of a lost New York Citythe Lower East Side, the strong immigrant and working-class neighborhoods, the blurred lines dividing proletarian and intellectual culture, the union halls and social clubs, the brutal cops and bosses, and the solidarity that kept them at bay.
An instant classic of radical history, this biography is written by a man now in his seventies who, as a child and young man, had a front-row seat to the world of proletarian politics and the colorful characters who brought it to life.
"The American left in its classical age used to celebrate an ideal, which was the worker-intellectualsomeone who toils with his hands all his life and meanwhile develops his mind and deepens his knowledge and contributes mightily to progress and decency in the society around him. Sam Dolgoff was a mythic figure in a certain corner of the radical left ... and his son, Anatole, has written a wise and beautiful book about him." Paul Berman, author of A Tale of Two Utopias and Power and the Idealists
"If you want to read the god-honest and god-awful truth about being a radical in twentieth-century America, drop whatever you're doing, pick up this book, and read it. Pronto! If you're not crying within five pages, you might want to check whether you've got a heart and a pulse." Peter Cole, author of Wobblies on the Waterfront
Anatole Dolgoff is the son of Esther and Sam Dolgoff, two of the most important anarchists in the United States in the twentieth century. He has lived in New York City his entire life and teaches geology at the Pratt Institute.