Ecology or Catastrophe: The Life of Murray Bookchin


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.1 X 1.2 X 9.3 inches | 1.3 pounds

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About the Author

Janet Biehl was Murray Bookchin's copyeditor for the last two decades of his professional life, and collaborated with him on both books and articles. She works as a freelance copyeditor for Viking Penguin, Alfred A. Knopf, Pantheon, Crown, Doubleday, and many other publishing houses.


"In Biehl's account, Bookchin's life is a story of the personal toll taken by fighting for these revolutionary ideas in a non-revolutionary era." --London Review of Books

"Biehl has an insider's view of Bookchin as both his collaborator and his lover, and she uses that insight to paint a detailed and lively picture of this important figure." -- Publishers Weekly

"Biehl's biography--for illuminating the emergence and contexts of these ideas--may very well be the best introduction we have to social ecology today. ... Janet Biehl has done a remarkable job bringing Bookchin "back to life" for new generations." --New Compass

"Biehl has written a compelling and significant chapter in American history." -- Booklist

The prescient Bookchin emerges in Janet Biehl's politics-heavy biography as incisive, inventive and pragmatic -- a refreshing contrast to today's environmental doom-mongers and techno-utopians alike." --Nature

"The first ... biography of Bookchin, it is well-written, exhaustively documented, and invites readers to traverse the full arc of his life, from his earliest days in New York City to his last in Burlington, Vermont." --Institute for Anarchist Studies

"Biehl's fluid prose makes Bookchin's traverse of the American leftist landscape accessible to the uninitiated. ... The biography is her expression of gratitude and homage, which, as Biehl demonstrates in these pages, Bookchin truly deserves." --Seven Days

"[A]n admirably thorough guide to both Bookchin's remarkable intellectual evolution and to the concrete issues and debates that informed it. It is also a well-written and highly accessible introduction to Bookchin and his ideas that promises to help keep his legacy alive for the next generation of political and environmental activists. ... [Biehl's] engaging and useful book has injected fresh life into Bookchin's vision for an ecological and libertarian left by demonstrating its relationship to vital questions and tactics and strategy that continue to be debated by present-day activists." --Environmental Politics

"Janet Biehl's meticulously researched biography splendidly captures Bookchin's intellectual and personal journey from youthful communist to mature anarchist. Bookchin influenced the thinking and actions of a generation but today his writings and insights are largely unknown. Biehl's terrific book will do much to overcome this illiteracy and introduce a new generation to one of the key intellectuals of our time." -- David Morris, Director, Public Good Initiative, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

"Murray Bookchin was irascible, human, brilliant, and above all relevant to our own time. This valuable book brings his work to life and takes us through his intellectual, activist and personal struggles between the late 1930s and the end of the 20th Century. An ecologist before the term was understood by most Americans and a sophisticated anarchist who recognized the importance of clear (but decentralized) organizational structure, Bookchin's story also offers a reminder of what it takes to live a committed life in our own time in history." -- Gar Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, Co-Founder of The Democracy Collaborative

"Creative, charismatic, controversial and, many would add, more often than not a bit cantankerous, Murray Bookchin was without doubt one of the most significant anti-capitalist thinkers of the last century. Here in Janet Biehl's intimate and meticulously researched biography, we see his tumultuous life and times laid out in such a way as to illuminate the cross-currents and confusions that powered the rise of left-wing ecological movements over more than half a century. This biography deserves to be widely read for its contemporary relevance." --David Harvey, CUNY Graduate Center

"Janet Biehl has written an insightful and compelling biography of Bookchin, which not only illuminates the details of his fascinating life, but which also captures a vivid sense of his times: the Depression-haunted 1930s in New York where he grew up, the civil rights struggle, the counterculture of the late 1960s, the peace movements in the '70s and '80s, as well as the gradual emergence of a global ecological consciousness of the past few decades." --The Vancouver Sun

"Provides a productive starting point for considering Bookchin's legacy." --Jacobin

"Janet Biehl's biography of Bookchin is a very readable account of his long involvement in various struggles of the US left..." --LINKS: International Journal of Socialist Renewal