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Haymarket: A Novel by Martin Duberman [Review]
north america / mexico | history of anarchism | opinion / analysis Monday November 12, 2007 00:47 by KSL - Kate Sharpley Library
Many anarchists will know the Haymarket story, if only because it gave us Mayday: the 1886 struggle for the eight hour day in Chicago and other American cities, the bomb thrown during a workers' meeting, the farce of a trial against eight anarchists, the execution of four and the suicide of a fifth. This novel covers all this by recreating the lives of Albert and Lucy Parsons and their world. Duberman is historically accurate but has gone beyond merely dramatising the trial records. He has built on his research to breathe life into history.
The relationship of Albert and Lucy forms the centre of the novel. Even without the drama of the Haymarket affair, theirs is a remarkable story: An ex-Confederate soldier who first became a Republican, then labour agitator and anarchist, and an African-American woman who forever maintained she was of Spanish and Native American origin, a political militant in her own right who was prepared to call for class violence against the rich. So, there are plenty of political arguments in the book, along with debates on sex and, inevitably, race. The radical culture of the Chicago anarchist movement, from beer halls to workers' militias, is also shown.