Review: Letters of Insurgents - Fredy Perlman

A photo of the book "Letters of Insurgents"

Freddy Perlman's Letters Of Insurgents is a thoroughly brilliant story about anarchist ideas. 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.

Submitted by Khawaga on December 17, 2009

Yarostan and Sophia work in a factory in eastern Europe. They live, argue and take action. The workers rebel, a general strike, an armed uprising, They rule at the streets and in the factory, argue about the future, for a moment the world belongs to them. But soon there is a new government, a workers government, a new army, a red army. Insurgent workers are being whipped back to the factory, the workers government puts workers in jail and up against the wall. Sophia escapes to a western country, Yarostan has to spend years in prison. Both in the eastern workers state and in the western democracy people find ways to survive, to relate to friends and enemies, and are forced to work for others.

After a quarter of a century without a word Sophia receives a letter from Yarostan. They start corresponding. About their new lives, new and old friends and comrades, work, politics and the struggle against work and politics. It’s about history, memories, hope and experience. Nothing is taken for granted, everything is questioned. Was it really the workers government, the red army or something else from outside that crushed the revolution? Did the union and the party deceit or did the union and the party win? Why did we go back to the factory? Do we need the factory? Can we really blame anyone else then ourselves? What are holding us back?

The discussion is taken forward, sometimes very confrontative, far from disrespectful politeness. The reader can’t let the book make the conclusions, you have to think for your self, you have to ask questions. Yarostan and Sophia bring up memories and events from the past 25 years, but time doesn’t stand still during the correspondence. The daily life is under attacked, people take power over their lives, Sophia and Yarostan take power over their lives.

Letters of Insurgents is about Sophia and Yarostan, about people around them, and about us. Rebellion, revolutions and personal relations.

You can read the book on Libcom here.

You can download the audiobook at Audioanarchy

Text from Polkagris.


Infinite Tasks

14 years 2 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Infinite Tasks on May 18, 2010

Nice review! Anyone reading this is warmly invited to participate in Insurgent Summer, an online cooperative reading of Letters, beginning June 11, 2010. There will be weekly posts by Guides and Guests, and lots of interaction! Letters is a phenomenal book, and your perspectives will be very much appreciated!


9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by ben. on November 18, 2014

Left Bank Books recently republished Letters of Insurgents: