Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism Book Review

Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism\

Book Legion
May 2010

About the Book:

Navigating the broad ‘river of anarchy’, from Taoism to Situationism, from Ranters to Punk rockers, from individualists to communists, from anarcho-syndicalists to anarcha-feminists, Demanding the Impossible is an authoritative and lively study of a widely misunderstood subject. It explores the key anarchist concepts of society and the state, freedom and equality, authority and power and investigates the successes and failure of the anarchist movements throughout the world. While remaining sympathetic to anarchism, it presents a balanced and critical account. It covers not only the classic anarchist thinkers, such as Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Reclus and Emma Goldman, but also other libertarian figures, such as Nietzsche, Camus, Gandhi, Foucault and Chomsky. No other book on anarchism covers so much so incisively.

In this updated edition, a new epilogue examines the most recent developments, including ‘post-anarchism’ and ‘anarcho-primitivism’ as well as the anarchist contribution to the peace, green and ‘Global Justice’ movements.

Demanding the Impossible is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand what anarchists stand for and what they have achieved. It will also appeal to those who want to discover how anarchism offers an inspiring and original body of ideas and practices which is more relevant than ever in the twenty-first century.

Our Take: Any book with a chapter on Emma Goldman is okay in my mind.  This History of Anarchism is 818 pages (including indexes) FULL of detailed information.  This is no dummies guide to Anarchy, this is a thorough and complete text that will keep you intrigued.  The author couldn’t have squeezed more information into this book.

Anarchy is a concept that is often misunderstood.   Its often associated with violence, chaos and revolution.  The hilarious part is that all political systems come into power through violence, not the least of which is democracy, which continues to employ violence to spread it’s wings throughout the world.  In all reality, very few Anarchists have turned to violent protest. 

This book covers everyone from Tolstoy to Goldman and Stirner.  The range of Anarchy is vast, easily as vast as any other system.  It ranges from right to left on the political scale and can appeal to everyone from a socialist to a libertarian!  If you have any interest in learning about the true Anarchism and it’s history, this is definately the book for you.  Its insightful, interesting and delightful.  

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