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Bakunin: The Creative Passion

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  132 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
"The passion for destruction is a creative passion," wrote the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin in 1842. Since then, the popular image of anarchism has been one of violence and terror. But this picture is wildly misleading, and the media has done more to obscure anarchism than to explain it. Focusing on the street fighting and confrontations with police, mainstream commentators a ...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published August 22nd 2006 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2006)
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Aug 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Nate Holdren
Shelves: organize
A really tremendous read. Anarchist histories tend not to be well-written, and certainly tend not to fall into that category of historical works characterized as 'judicious.' But without sacrificing an ounce of passion, Leier makes Bakunin jump off the page. He doesn't spare him (and there are areas in which Bakunin does not deserve to be spared), but nor does he simply roll over and accept the multitude of silly arguments and demonizations that have been launched against the man for well-nigh o ...more
Peter Pinkney
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not an easy book to read, but as with most difficult books, extremely rewarding.
I've always thought of myself as a Marxist, but after reading this, I'm not so sure anymore.
A great deal of the book is taken up with squabbles between Marx/Engels and Bakunin, and it is difficult to know who was right. Bakunin certainly comes across as the nicer person. The book is not just a biography, but also a well argued explanation of Bukanin's views, and the whole book is interwoven with comparisons of today'
Dec 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, radical
Fantastic. Must-read for anyone who believes we can attain a better, more free and equal world than we live in today. Or even for those who have become disillusioned with such hopeful thoughts. The author does a superb job in not only giving a biography of Bakunin and describing his ideas, but also skillfully places it all into the broader historical context.
Sep 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: my mother, for starters
Recommended to Daniel by: Andrew D
This is a great introduction to Bakunin's ideas.

It is disappointing that Bakunin's biography is used only as a backdrop to describe his ideas. Had I known that this book's charge was not his actions per se, but what motivated those actions, I might have picked up a different book. Passing mention is given to the barricades of various insurrections all over Europe that Bakunin manned. Instead the book concentrates on ensuring that Bakunin's ideas are explained plainly to the reader, leaving the a
Michael Schmidt
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anarchism
As choking cement dust settled over Manhattan in the wake of 9/11, journalists pawing through the wreckage of history for a precedent came across the almost forgotten bombing of Wall Street by Lettish members of the Anarchist Black Cross in 1920 that killed 38 people and injured scores others.

It had been an era in which anarchism wore the mantle of most feared sect to the propertied classes (Interpol had its roots in international summits in Rome and St Petersburg in the 1890s to combat anarchi
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mark Leier points out that the best way to analyse ideas is through dialectic - or in this case attacking anyone who has ever dared to criticise the anarchist intellectual Mikhail Bakunin. The fact that he does so decisively and with both verve and wit is much to his credit, as is his refusal to excuse Bakunin's anti-semitism which was troubling even for the times in which he lived.
To describe 'The Creative Passion' as an autobiography is both overstatement and misleading. Although Leier goes in
Jul 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is the most enjoyable book I've read recently. The author provides a likable and human portrait of a figure who has been very poorly served by generations of historians and sectarian Marxists (not to mention Marx himself), who have distorted the anarchist's thought, misattributed the incendiary work of others to him, falsely accused him of espionage, and grasped at isolated passages of his writing as evidence of secret authoritarian intentions. After more than a century of these widely circ ...more
Sean Mccarrey
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
My initial disappointments with this book come from my false expectations of Bakunin, so I can't really judge this book for that. However, I did feel as though the author may have missed out on a more interesting aspect of Bakunin's life. Throughout the book, it seems as though Leier is using Bakunin's biography to explain the ways that he came about the various characters that Bakunin wrote back and forth with. I think that a more in-depth view of how not just the people, but places and events ...more
Apr 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: academics, anarchists
I think I stopped reading this book about 2/3 of the way through. At first I was really excited about such a sizable, dense, new biography on Bakunin, but after dragging myself through whole chapters of the book, I thought I should set it down for a while. I guess I feel like Bakunin's been regarded as more of a doer than a writer or propagandist or academic - I think I even had this image of him being nursed by a she-bear as a child and taught to hate authority and society - and this book reall ...more
Matthew Antosh
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: activism
Bakunin: the Creative Passion is one of the most through biographies of Bakunin I have ever read, although one must consider the fact that I have not read any other biographies of Bakunin other then Mark Leiers. The book takes an approach that is heavy in modern day pop culture and deep in 18th century theoretical philosophy, which makes parts of the book quick to read, and at times a little hard to slog though. While I realize it is important to understand the philosophy of Hegel to understand ...more
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anarchism
Bakunin much like anarchism itself is widely misunderstood. Mark Leier in a similar vein to Francis Wheen tries to inject humour into an otherwise complex biography which weaves together philosophy, history, and a series of protracted personal disputes with Karl Marx all without being dry, the least bit academic or partisan. The last chapter tries in particularly to emphasise the proximity of Bakunin and late Marx after the fallout of the Paris Commune.

Considering the morass of silliness that is
i was stranded in the jungles of southern naperville for an afternoon, so i moseyed my way on over to the public lib and found this interesting little gem to tie up an afternoon. particularly fascinating to me is the dramatic relationship between bakunin and marx, up to and including bakunin's expulsion from the first international. at one point marx's feelings are hurt cause bakunin doesn't respond to marx's gift of a copy of the recently published Capital, and bakunin has to respond in a lette ...more
The American Conservative
'Mark Leier sets out to rescue not only Mikhail Bakunin, the great anarchist thinker, but the whole anarchist tradition, which he argues is a pertinent political force today: “The current interest in anarchism,” he writes, “is not misplaced or irrelevant.” He certainly accomplishes the former and does much to dispel the multiple canards that have surrounded this man, many of them fabricated by Marx and the Marxists, but I don’t think he makes much of a case for the latter.'

Read the full review,
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really good. Posited as one of the only, and certainly the best books on Bakunin, it doesn't leave much wanting. The focus is on Bakunin's ideas, not just his life, but a lot of time is spent on his long term quarreling with Marx, and also on dispelling the myths that abound when it comes to Bakunin. Highly recommended.
Jun 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recentlyread
Excellent overview of Bakunin's life and political thinking. Very funny, as the author makes comparisons to contemporary pop culture to illustrate points. Contain several good overviews of concepts, including anarchism.
Theshigen Navalingam
Good book but gets very repetitive in the middle. Due to mostly Bakunin's problems that keep repeating themselves in his lifetime. The book gets a lot more interesting near the end of the book. If you're feeling discouraged half way through the book, persevere and keep reading.
Mar 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A satisfying walk through Bakunin's life and decent exploration of the state of affairs in Russia and Europe at the time. I am planning to use this as a sort of launch pad for my future explorations of Anarchism and Bakunin's thoughts
Brendan  McAuliffe
Only read half of this ( had to go back to libaray and I'm way behind in other things ) Too much editorializing, but, not bad.
Craig Bolton
Bakunin: The Creative Passion by Mark Leier (2006)
Matt Frear
Aug 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Disappointing - a bit of curates egg I'd say. Amusingly anti-Marx though! Feel it should have been better.
Fiona MacKellar
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
No time to write a worthy review at present. The short version? A thoroughly enjoyable read that was clever, funny, and thought provoking.
Pablo Abufom
Oct 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
very well written, excellent documentation, very interesting approach. an insightful and contemporary review of a powerful and classical character.
Gareth Sparks
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Mar 02, 2017
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Aug 17, 2011
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Aug 10, 2015
Jeff Kozak
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Nov 10, 2012
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Jul 15, 2012
Michael Dougherty
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Apr 25, 2008
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Aug 01, 2012
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Jun 08, 2013
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Mark Leier is a Canadian historian of working class and left-wing history. He is the director of the Centre for Labour Studies at Simon Fraser University, where he is also a Professor of Canadian History and the history of Marxism.
Politically anarchist, Leier's books have mostly reflected on British Columbia's rich history of labour radicalism. His first book, Where the Fraser River Flows: The Ind
More about Mark Leier