Murdered by Capitalism: A Memoir of 150 Years of Life and Death on the US Left

Overview


A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2004

After spilling bourbon on Schnaubelt's grave, its pugnacious and very dead occupant becomes Ross's mentor, sidekick, and boozing companion through this epic telling of the hallucinatory, carnal, and ornery histories of the American Left and John Ross's own remarkable life. Schnaubelt navigates us through his seemingly boundless revolutionary battleground, uttering cries of subversion from within the grave while trying to remain out of...

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Overview


A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2004

After spilling bourbon on Schnaubelt's grave, its pugnacious and very dead occupant becomes Ross's mentor, sidekick, and boozing companion through this epic telling of the hallucinatory, carnal, and ornery histories of the American Left and John Ross's own remarkable life. Schnaubelt navigates us through his seemingly boundless revolutionary battleground, uttering cries of subversion from within the grave while trying to remain out of earshot from the FBI snoop and local supermarket tycoon buried nearby. Ross's own story—hobo revolutionist, junkie, poet, and journalist is a contrapuntal to Schnaubelt's. Ross never takes himself too seriously, yet his most remarkable trait is the honesty with which he approaches life, even while trying to deconstruct his own faults, personal tragedies (including the death of his one-month-old son), and imperfections. His pursuit of revolutionary politics and poetics is the constant, often spent with his muse, Revolutionary Mexico. Ross concludes with a trip to Baghdad as a "human shield," before the Anglo-American invasion, ready to sacrifice his life as part of his perpetual struggle for justice. Award-winning writer John Ross's memoir is inspired from a tumbledown tombstone in California: The headstone reads: E. B. Schnaubelt 1855–1913, "Murdered by Capitalism."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
To hear Ross, who has covered Mexico for Noticias Aliadas (Lima), Texas Observer, San Francisco Bay Guardian and "other screwball publications," tell it, the American Left is dead and buried. Fittingly, he sets his history/dialogue in a graveyard populated by the ghosts of its heroes. Here lies E.B. Schnaubelt, Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons, Sacco and Vanzetti and a host of others whose radical lifestyles and actions left their mark on those Communists, anarchists and revolutionaries who saw America in more utopian terms than the capitalists they fought. Soaked by alcohol and salved by drugs, Ross, who has made a life out of dissent, converses with the dead (and dying from memory), lamenting the Left's losses, its infighting, its failures and the occasional victory. But Ross stumbles in his rhetorical excesses and in his efforts to tie together so many disparate rebels and outlaws-from Goldman and Fidel to the Weathermen and Civil Rights leaders. Strictly for members of the choir looking for a good historical primer on the American Left, the book nevertheless entertains with its pugnacious language, Hunter Thompson-levels of chemical consumption and a conviction that no revolution can succeed without a sense of humor. Ross manages to salvage positivity from beneath all this forgotten death, and that's about all the solace the book offers for the true believer. (June 7) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rambling, revelatory story of two anarchists: one dead, the other very much alive and full of pizzazz, despite his protestations. Journalist/poet Ross (Tonatiuh's People, not reviewed, etc.) gets together with the buried remains of E.B. Schnaubelt, an anarcho-syndicalist gunned down by henchmen of a California timber baron, on the site of the latter's cenotaph. The pair reflect and joust over revolutionary matters, fueled by dago red. In a voice that rolls like the tall grass prairie, swept by the breeze of doing right and saving grace, they talk of their respective roots in the Communes of 1848 and 1872, or as a young citizen of Greenwich Village's Little Red Schoolhouse ("whose facade was painted the color of its politics"). Schnaubelt played a pivotal role in the Haymarket bombing of 1886, and many bombings would come in its wake as explosives became the furious tool of choice for insurrectionists from Wobblies to Weatherpeople. Schnaubelt speaks his mind, while Ross spills his beans. Of his ratty husband- and fatherhood, the (live) author remarks, "We ran off to Mexico and had kids, some of whom are still alive. She suffered me as an arrogant, blitzed young man wild to become the white Rimbaud (Bob Kaufman was already the black one)." As the book ebbs and flows, with "testimonies" from Emma Goldman, Bill Hayward, Sacco, and Vanzetti, a vivid picture emerges of Ross's association with the left, nitty-gritty and unpretty but better than the prevailing political current. And Ross is still at it: after all the myriad screw-ups, the sad stint with the Progressive Labor Party, the halfway houses for addiction, he retained enough conviction to volunteer as a human shield in Baghdad, anabhorrence of Hussein be damned. True and dubious, colorful and carrying, Ross's prose breaks like a wave, a great booming salute to radicalism that is, for all its missteps, still an inspiring force. A candent, mordant tribute to left-wing America.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560255789
  • Publisher: Nation Books
  • Publication date: 6/9/2004
  • Series: Nation Books
  • Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 566,641
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author


A native of New York City's Greenwich Village and a younger beat poet, John Ross tore up his draft card in 1957 and moved to Mexico from where he has been covering Latin America for the past 50 years for print and electronic media outlets, among them the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Noticias Aliadas, La Jornada, and Counterpunch. The author of ten volumes of fiction and non-fiction and an equal number of poetry chapbooks, Ross is the recipient of the American Book Award (1995) and the Upton Sinclair prize (2005). He has lived in the old quarter of Mexico City since the great 1985 earthquake.
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Table of Contents

A Brief Introduction to E. B. Schnaubelt 1
Book 1 Haymarket 5
Book 2 Belly of the Beast 67
Book 3 The Death of Dogma 173
Book 4 Kaboom!!! 291
Epilogue: The Day of the Dead of the American Left 339
Index 347
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