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Letters of Insurgents

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  121 ratings  ·  23 reviews
One-time lovers who share libertarian ideals find themselves on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain in the 1960s. They continue to seek a path to liberation and their letters record the repression and satisfactions they experience under different manifestations of the modern state. A beautiful, tender and inspiring collection. In all actuality, a collection of work from Fre ...more
Paperback, 831 pages
Published January 1st 2002 by Black & Red (first published 1976)
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Moxie Marlinspike
Jan 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I think that this is the best anarchist text I've seen, and probably one of the better novels of all time as well. It takes the form of fictional letters between two eastern european workers who were separated after a failed revolution; one spent twelve years in statist jails, the other escaped to the west. After twenty-five years without contact, they begin to write each-other about their experiences, their lives, their hopes, and their memories of the past. The characters that emerge from thes ...more
Jun 06, 2007 rated it it was ok
No longer using this website, but I'm leaving up old reviews. Fuck Jeff Bezos. Find me on LibraryThing:

Eight years ago I listened to this book during Insurgent Summer, an effort to get a anarchists in the US to engage with the ideas in this book. The idea was that I would get together with comrades in my area and discuss the content. Instead, I listened to it alone, and cheered. I hungered at the time for this ultra-left politics. So much so that I shrugg
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
What is it to be an "insurgent"? To become a pedagogue, preach an ideal? To be anti-social, rebel for rebellion's sake? This book effectively eliminates all the stereotypes and dead ends, although for me it is too artificial and didactic to really work as literature. And then what is one to make of what is held up as the true revolutionary path? Yikes. . . . it seems too convenient to believe that when desires are unleashed everyone will happily have sex with everyone else. Does it make sense to ...more
R Reddebrek
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Letters of Insurgents is difficult to describe, appropriate given how one of its main themes is the difficult of communicating with other human beings, and the dangers miscommunication can cause.

I've been aware of this book for some time, everyone I've known whose read this book has been glowing in its praise, one even said it drove them to tears. But I was intimidated by the books length, thankfully there's a free audio version that's not hard to find to help.

The format, a series of correspond
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, anarchism
[Spoiler Alert] I've had a really hard time thinking about how to rate this book. I loved it, and I loved the structure and intimacy of alternating letters between friends finding each other again. I loved Sophia and Yarostan's honesty with each other and their ability to look critically and challenge their perceptions and ideal abstractions of the past. The conversations culled from their retrospective storytelling seemed so relevant still, and I had flashbacks to numerous talks and people I've ...more
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Included in this book's description, "One-time lovers who share libertarian ideals find themselves on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain in the 1960s." I'd like to correct that. Actually, the fictional Sophia and Yarostan are anarchists who've lived through a composite of many of the 20th century's major revolutions and uprisings.

The reader reviews here do the book more justice. Yes, the reviews are effusively glowing and for good reason. A complicated story with even more complicated ideas ben
May 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: collage, discarded
if you like long, rambling diatribes, this is your book. you couldn't make this stuff up. all the drama, all the infighting, and all the idealistic passion, wrapped up in one tidy package. not necessarily structured for plot or character development, or course. just cut and paste, judy, cut and paste... ...more
Human Neglect
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
has given me more to think about than any book i've ever read. unfortunately, it's out of print.

check out
Thomas Tait
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: anarchism

Definitely one of the more important texts I've read within the past few years. If anyone has any other recommendations for similar things please let me know.
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Letters of Insurgents is one of the more savage books I’ve read about anarchism. Told through a sprawling series of letters between two characters, one behind the Iron Curtain and one in the US, the exchange subjects the radical milieu of anarchists, various shades of red bureaucrats, professionals, liberals, hippies, etc. and most of all the characters’ own life goals and projects to unrelenting criticism. As the characters question each other and themselves, it in turn invites the reader to as ...more
Nov 12, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anarcho-philosophers of strong stomach
at first i didn't realise this was fiction; perlman's name is nowhere to be found in book and it's published to look like sophia and yarostan are in fact the true authors of the letters therein. this is a long read, and i'd recommend it despite it's shortcomings because it is unlike anything else i've ever read or will probably read again. the letters are written by two ex-comrades who once took part in a revolution together in their home country, an unidentified state that seems to be in easter ...more
Ryan Mishap
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-novels
Although his name does not appear on the book. Over 900 pages of letters exchanged between Yarostan—just released from an 8 year stint in the prison of an unnamed eatern Bloc country (the book takes place in the late sixties and 20 years before)— and Sophia—now living in (unnamed) Detroit. She and others had emigrated after a worker’s revolution, while Yarostan was left behind to serve his first sentence. This book is long, yes, with many pages that read like political essays or history. But the ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
The first day I got this book I was hooked and immediately read about 150 pages into the book. I didn't know what to think of it. It must be fiction, but who made this up? Then I read online it was Fredy Perlman and the mystery was kind of gone I guess. And when I continued to read I was just increasingly ignored by how characters are used as devices all portraying a certain ideology. Perhaps I should go back and read it someday.. I don't know. ...more
Petter Nordal
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The brilliant Yugoslav-american thinker Fredy Perlman, who knew rebellion against communist and capitalist regimes, wrote this great story as a series of letters. My favorite part is actually his prescient commentary about technological progress: he examines the notion that technology will save us, and concludes that the easier it becomes to communicate with those who are far away, the harder it becomes to have community with those who are nearby.
May 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
this book is by far one of the best books i've read in ages. i highly recommend it. it covers a lot of the stuff i think about a lot. a number of the arguments i have in my head about various things are laid out on paper with much more coherent thoughts around them than i'm able to probduce in my head. i can't detail it more, or else i'll spoil it. ...more
Jeffrey Paris [was Infinite Tasks]
See Insurgent Summer for a ten-week, cooperative reading from the summer of 2010. There are character pictures, stories, links, and three weekly entries from the bloggers Gardens of Resistance, Aragorn!, and art noose. The full text and audio Is also available there, for free, and hopefully it can bring this important book back into print, eventually. ...more
This is one of my favorite books. I don't care what you think of Perlman--read it. It's a great story and deals with questions that many in the circles of people who have heard of this book are always asking. And he doesn't give you the answer. ...more
Artnoose McMoose
Dec 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Best novel ever written.
T. P. Alexanders
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Simple but thought provoking, this is a great way to get your feet wet in the subject of Anarchism. Hear it for free at: Audio Anarchy.
One of our favorite books
Boris Yusof
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anarchist
A great look into the anarchist mindset in the form of back and forth letters exchanged between characters that deeply crave freedom of mind and spirit.
Jun 29, 2008 is currently reading it
don't be a politician ...more
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