Publisher: AK Press
Released: June 7, 2016
Sam Dolgoff (1902–1990) was a house painter by trade and member of the IWW from the early 1920s until his death. Sam, along with his wife Esther, was at the center of American anarchism for seventy years, bridging the movement's generations, providing continuity between past and present, and creating some of the most vital books and journals from the Great Depression through WWII, the Civil Rights era, and into the last decade of the century. This instant classic of radical history, written with passion and humor by his son, conjures images of a lost New York City, the faded power of immigrant and working-class neighborhoods, and the blurred lines dividing proletarian and intellectual culture.
Praise for Left of the Left
"The American left in its classical age used to celebrate an ideal, which was the worker-intellectual—someone who toils with his hands all his life and meanwhile develops his mind and deepens his knowledge and contributes mightily to progress and decency in the society around him. Sam Dolgoff was a mythic figure in a certain corner of the radical left ... and his son, Anatole, has written a wise and beautiful book about him." —Paul Berman, author of A Tale of Two Utopias and Power and the Idealists
"If you want to read the god-honest and god-awful truth about being a radical in twentieth-century America, drop whatever you're doing, pick up this book, and read it. Pronto! If you're not crying within five pages, you might want to check whether you've got a heart and a pulse."
—Peter Cole, author of Wobblies on the Waterfront
Left of the Left has an old, grizzled Sam Dolgoff on the cover in full colour. And inside, the picture Anatole paints is not black and white either. Besides the politics, there is working, drinking and family dynamics that aren’t always pretty. Left of the Left is both sad and funny at times. Mainly it’s a wise and loving tribute, to his parents, but also to the movement that they helped to make and that helped make them.
—Kate Sharpley Library
"Left of the Left also serves as a tasting menu of a type, delivering compelling thumbnail accounts of other anarchists influential in Sam’s life...Hopefully, readers will be tempted enough to further explore these iconic figures."
—Joel Sucher, HuffPost
"Left of the Left is a good reminder of who Sam was and what he did. Written by his son, Anatole, the book offers a side that you wouldn’t be able to necessarily learn about from reading old anarchist papers or autobiographies."
—Juan Conatz, Libcom
"Left of the Left: My Memories of Sam Dolgoff is a compelling account of a prominent anarchist whose life and work warrants further study, as well as a touching remembrance of the world that anarchism helped make for his friends and family. Anatole is a compelling storyteller. It should be of interest to scholars of American radicalism and general readers simply curious about the history of American anarchism, a topic that remains otherwise opaque in public discourse."
—Sean Cashbaugh, H-Socialisms
"This fascinating memoir, Left of the Left, My Memories of Sam Dolgoff, is part biography and family history, and part commentary on many decades of twentieth century radical activists and groups, seen primarily through the eyes of Sam... This book is a fascinating tour through the life and times of a lifelong Wobbly and working class intellectual. It is also a touching personal memoir about growing up in a radical family. It’s a valuable addition to anarchist and left history and Sam will not be forgotten."
—Eric Dirnbach, ROAR Magazine
"In Left of the Left: My Memories of Sam Dolgoff, Anatole Dolgoff sets out to tell not only his family’s story but also “the history of a culture, and of a chapter of American radicalism that few people know about.” Dolgoff strives to give an emotionally honest and impartial look at his parents and himself, warts and all…"
—Allis Radosh, Jewish Review of Books
Check out a series of short interviews with Anatole Dolgoff on topics related to the book.
You can also read an excerpt from the book here.
Anatole Dolgoff is the son of prominent anarchists Sam and Esther Dolgoff, and was quite literally born and raised among the Wobblies and anarchists of the latter two-thirds of the twentieth century. Anatole was for many years an Associate Professor of Physics at CUNY and is currently Professor of Geology at the Pratt Institute.