Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Anarchy Readings for This Guy: April 2012

I would recommend Alamut, by Vladimir Bartol. I hate recommending works, because I think most people find things so differently. I've seen enough people sleep through films to realize that we have our times for works. After all, I slept through Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather, and a number of other works as an adolescent.

But-- My point is that Bartol is interesting where he has Hassan-i-Sabbah, leader of the Assassin cult, ponder his own weakness in the world. In a few brief paragraphs, he muses how easily his servants might kill him. And then Hassan moves on, sprinting toward his plan's end. I like the book. Its questioning of lies and truth, illusion and faith, love and heartlessness, makes it timeless. I'd recommend it. It was a sad read in parts, puzzling in parts, frustrating at others. A little bit of Near East knowledge helps, I suppose.

And I also read The World that Never Was. And it was good, as well, if just as fantastic and a little sad. Some readers complained about his strong use of narrative to thread the story together, but I think Butterworth succeeded in tone and story as much as he could have. He tracks dozens of figures through four decades of political history and comes to the round point of the defeat of the first generation of anarchism after infighting, betrayal from the left, and infiltration of its ranks by agents provocateurs of the established powers. He shows their refuges dry up and their foes claiming their very names, in the case of the Soviet Union and the Maoists, who view themselves as successors or supercessionists of the Communard/anarchist cause. It ends sadly, but there is a sequel, of course, in Anarchist Catalonia. I've already read Orwell's history of that time--and everyone who claims to think about politics should--and I'm looking forward to reading more.

And from IOZ I have a new thought to read Rand. Haven't touched her in a decade. Maybe it's time for me to finally quit my bigotry and get around to reading her. A free or used copy of Atlas Shrugged is in my future. God help me.


  1. i love the way you write in your reviewing here , i've only read in part .. being called away here now .. , but i needed to say something of before i went .. .

  2. back in , .. of the ayn , did you have a look at the commenting there as well ?