The Accidental Anarchist: A humorous (and true) account of a man who was sentenced to death 3 times -- and survived

The Accidental Anarchist: A humorous (and true) account of a man who was sentenced to death 3 times -- and survived


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The Accidental Anarchist: A humorous (and true) account of a man who was sentenced to death 3 times -- and survived 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Delin_Colon More than 1 year ago
Kranzler's book is most definitely a page-turner. She has successfully preserved the voice and dry humor of her grandfather. I was immersed in his hair-raising, suspenseful account of war, survival and antisemitism. It is told in such an intimate fashion that I felt as if I were in his presence, sitting around a campfire in the woods as he told me of his adventures and narrow escapes from death. This is not only the tale of Jacob Marateck, but is representative of many Jews of Czarist Russia who were conscripted into the poorly equipped and badly organized army. Kranzler also illustrates the extreme antisemitism that was government policy, and consequent oppression that Russian Jews were subjected to. Present also is a theme that typically emerges in accounts of disenfranchised Jews driven from their homes, in this era and others. No longer a member of the orthodox community, and spurned by non-Jewish Russians, Jacob lived with one foot in each world while feeling he belonged to neither. This account is an important history lesson, offering a view of Czarist Russia that was much more common than, yet diametrically opposed to, the opulence and decadence of the aristocracy that is typically reported in accounts of that era. Kudos to Bryna Kranzler. Delin Colón, author of "Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History"
SuzyWatts More than 1 year ago
Our story begins in Poland at the dawn of the 20th century, when the country is occupied by Russia. Our hero, Jacob Marateck, lives in Vishigrod with his parents and brothers, and is conscripted into the Russian army to fight in the Russo-Japanese war which is centred in Manchuria. He is part of a constant stream of foot soldiers sent to do battle with the enemies of the Czar. He neither cares for the Czar nor his enemies and just wants to serve his time and head for home, with as little damage to body and mind as possible. Jacob’s diaries form the basis for this book which has been carefully transcribed by his granddaughter Bryna, ably assisted by her parents, who undertook the translation of the journals. The resulting story is a fascinating tale of war and the utter futility of countries throwing their young men at each other until one of them runs out of steam, or moves on to another conflict. Horrifying images are described by Jacob as he travels from his home to the various battlefronts and the difficulties he encounters along the way. In those days, as in many before and since, Jews were not the most popular citizens of Russian-occupied Poland, and their treatment in the army was no different. The hardships were many, and the tales of death and destruction numerous, but somehow Jacob survived to tell his story. He travelled thousands of miles in the service of the Czar, facing occasional imprisonment, death sentences, and terrible deprivation which made his survival all the more amazing. A fascinating story, which brings to life those violent and troubled times, through the words of someone who was there. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well written historical biography and is interested in European history.
Evie4 More than 1 year ago
To read a diary provides an opportunity to look into the diarist's soul. The Accidental Anarchist by Bryna Kranzler is the story of her grandfather, Jacob Marateck, and the book provides just that opportunity. In the Author's Note Ms. Kranzler writes that "The objective was to create an entertaining and enlightening narrative without changing the story." She succeeded. Jacob Marateck and his family lived in Russian occupied Poland in the latter part of the 19th century. Most people were poor and his family was no exception. He could either go to school or be sent to learn a trade. He chose school and before his thirteenth birthday he decided studying was not for him. Without telling anyone that he was going home, he ran away from the yeshiva. Around the same time, a boy his age was found drowned. "Using good Polish logic, the authorities put the missing boy together with the dead boy, and wiped their hands of both cases with remarkable efficiency." His parents were notified of his death and mourned him- not for the last time. Upon returning home his family told him he "needed to find a job". He went to Warsaw and worked at unfulfilling jobs for about eight years. It was in Warsaw that he organized a strike that demanded daily work hours be reduced to twelve hours from twenty hours. The end result was not exactly what he wanted but he learned what he was capable of doing. In 1902 twenty-one year old Jacob, who is Jewish, is conscripted into the anti-Semitic Russian army. He survives two death sentences. Upon leaving the military he becomes part of the Polish revolutionary underground and receives his third death sentence. The sentence is commuted to ten years in a Siberian prison from which he and his most interesting friend escape! Their three thousand mile journey home is nothing short of miraculous and full of surprises. Jacob Marateck was a dignified man who was both courageous and honorable. Through the horrors of war, hunger and all the other hardships he endured his remarkable sense of humor was ever present. To read his story is a privilege. I highly recommend reading it. I received this book for free through Review The Book and I give this review of my own free will.