Alexander Berkman was born of a prosperous Jewish family in Russia in 1870 and emigrated to America as a young man. Deported for political reasons from the U.S. in 1919, he went to the Soviet Union, from which he was in turn expelled. “Expelled again and again,” he once wrote. “Must get off the earth, but am still here.”
No other book discusses so frankly the criminal ways of the closed prison society, its homosexuality or extortion. No other political prisoner even remotely approaches Berkman’s sympathy for what most of the revolutionaries refer to contemptuously as common criminals.