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The Bolshevik Myth

Alexander Berkman


After being imprisoned in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for his role in opposing mandatory conscription following the U.S. entry into World War I, Alexander Berkman became one of 246 left-wing radicals (including his fellow anarchist and lover Emma Goldman) deported to Russia in December 1919 aboard the U.S.S. Buford. While initially an enthusiastic supporter of the revolutionary Bolshevik regime, Berkman’s travels throughout Russia and Ukraine led to increasing discomfort with the authoritarianism and corruption characteristic of Bolshevik rule. Eventually, the violent suppression of the Kronstadt rebellion completely broke his support for the Bolshevik regime, leading to his emigration from Russia.

Berkman recorded his experiences in the years from 1920 to 1922 in a diary, which he reworked into The Bolshevik Myth. (While the book is presented as the original diary, archival research has shown that much of the original material from Berkman’s diary was rewritten.) Readers of The Bolshevik Myth may note considerable structural and topical similarities with Goldman’s more famous memoir on the Russian Revolution, My Disillusionment in Russia. Since Goldman and Berkman were deported from the U.S. together and traveled throughout Russia and Ukraine as part of the same committees and delegations, the two memoirs represent two different perspectives on effectively the same journey.

This Standard Ebooks edition includes the final chapter of Berkman’s original manuscript, which was rejected by the publisher Boni & Liveright as a literary “anti-climax.” Berkman later published the final chapter, which provides a theoretical analysis on the Bolshevik regime from an anarchist perspective, separately under the title of “The Anti-Climax.”

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