“Paul Avrich, a historian of the anarchist movement that played a role in the Russian Revolution and flourished in America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, died on Feb. 16 at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was 74 and lived in Manhattan….The subjects of his books included the Kronstadt naval base rebellion of 1921, an uprising of sailors against the Bolshevik regime that left more than 10,000 dead or wounded; the Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which seven Chicago police officers were killed by a bomb thrown at a workers’ gathering; and the Sacco and Vanzetti case. He interviewed hundreds of adherents of the movement for one book, “Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America.”"
I was most sad to wake up to the news of Avrich’s death. I first discovered Avrich while an undergraduate student at the American University of Beirut. I was at the time going through my disillusionment with Marxism-Leninism and developed an obsession with the Kronstadt Rebellion. At the time, I was going to specialize in Soviet studies (which remained my minor even in graduate school here in the US). I was collecting every bit of information that I could find on the rebellion. I wrote a letter to Abrich, and received a very kind response and he showed interest and expressed encouragement. I wanted to write my MA thesis on Kronstadt. My interests continued, but my advisor at the time (Rashid Khalidi) explained that we did not have the resources at the university (in terms of Russian language training) for me to earn a MA in Soviet Studies, and that I needed Russian for the research. Hanna Batatu (who was on sabbatical in the US at the time) agreed in a letter (Batatu had studied Russian in the US). I will today (or tomorrow) reread Avrich’s book on Kronstadt.

Posted on February 24, 2006 by As'ad