I would argue that Emma Goldman’s Living My Life is the most important contribution of United States anarchists to the global anarchist canon. In terms of both her dedication to promoting anarchism and feminism, and the extraordinary life she led, Emma Goldman’s autobiography is unparalleled among other writings by anarchists from the United States. I also think this book can be read as a challenge to present anarchists. Who among us can honestly say that have put forth a genuine effort to make anarchism an issue as it was at the time of Emma Goldman and her contemporaries?
Moreover, this book, by virtue of Goldman’s extraordinary life and her accessible writing style, should appeal to non-anarchists who are simply interested in history, especially those seeking to move beyond the limited scope of history taught in high schools and universities. For those of us who have read about the radical and reform movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Emma Goldman’s book is an entertaining look at various radicals, as she encounters Eugene Debs, Jane Adams, Johann Most, Voltaraine de Cleyre, and numerous others, and that is just in the first volume.
I highly recommend reading both the first volume, which focuses primarily on her life in the United States, as well as the second volume, much of which is dominated by her experience in Russia after the Bolshevik revolution and her subsequent disillusionment.
Emma Goldman, Living My Life, (A.A. Knopf, 1931).