DEMANDING THE IMPOSSIBLE: A HISTORY OF ANARCHISM
A HISTORY OF ANARCHISM
(London: HarperCollins, 1992), hdbk pp.767; (London: Fontana Press, 1992, 1993), pbk.,pp.767 ; (London: Harper Perennial, 2008), pbk.,pp. 818, ISBN 978-0-00-686245-1 (Oakland,CA: PM Press, 2010), pbk.,pp. 818, ISBN 978-1-60486-064-1
An updated edition of this book was published by Harper Perennial in January 2008 with a new epilogue. A corrected American edition was further published by PM Press in January 2010.
Rights sold: Indonesia and Turkey.
“Demanding the Impossible is the book I always recommend when asked – as I often am – for something on the history and ideas of anarchism.”
“Marshall’s comprehensive treatment [is] a timely read. Newly revised and updated, this indispensable history of social libertarian thought now reaches into the 21st century. Readers will be repeatedly rewarded by Marshall’s judiciousness and close readings. Blowing away cobwebs of misunderstanding and misrepresentation, this is a stimulating portrait of a highly varied but distinctive political ideal, tradition, and practice arising from the enduring human impulse to be free.”
“Interest in anarchy … was reawakened by the publication of Peter Marshall’s massively comprehensive Demanding the Impossible, a brick-sized history that received rave reviews.”
Peter Beaumont, Observer
“Reading about anarchism is stimulating and funny and sad. What more can you ask of a book?”
Isabel Colegate, The Times
“I trust that Marshall’s survey of the whole heart-warming, head-challenging subject will have a wide circulation … It is a handbook of real history, which should make it more valuable in the long run than all the mighty textbooks on market economics and such-like ephemeral topics.”
Michael Foot, Evening Standard
“The most comprehensive account of anarchist thought ever written. Marshall’s knowledge is formidable and his enthusiasm engaging …”
JB Pick, Scotsman
“Infectious in its enthusiasm, attractive to read … there is more information about anarchism in this than any other single volume. It was well worth writing and well worth reading.’
Nicholas Walter, London Review of Books
“The standard work of reference until well into the 21st century.’
Colin Ward, New Statesman and Society
“Essential reading…The whole is a rich tapestry… Peter Marshall has dignified anarchism with his widespread scholarship and, in doing so, has essentially set the rest of us a challenge of emulating his commitment. If you can afford to buy this book, treat yourself.”
John Desmond, Freedom
As the reviews make clear, too many to quote, Demanding the Impossible is a genuinely internationalist and highly enjoyable history of anarchist thought and action. It is divided into seven parts: Anarchism in Theory, Forerunners of Anarchism, Great Libertarians, Classic Anarchist Thinkers, Anarchism in Action, Modern Anarchism, the Legacy of Anarchism.
Marshall explores the emergence of an anarchist tendency in ancient civilizations and religious traditions, examines the deepest thinkers of anarchism, and studies the main social movements and the most important revolutions which have embraced anarchist and libertarian ideas and values. In this world-wide survey, he travels through France, Italy, Spain, Russian, Ukraine, Northern Europe, United States, Latin America and Asia. He considers, among many other colourful and influential characters, William Godwin, Max Stirner, Michael Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Tolstoy, Malatesta, Emma Goldman, Gandhi and Murray Bookchin.
At the end of this compelling study from the earliest times to the present day, Marshall concludes:
“Far from being the puerile, naive, utopian fantasy imagined by superficial observers, anarchist thought … is profound, complex and subtle. It is more than a doctrine of personal living. It questions and has answers for many of the fundamental concerns of moral and political philosophy. It addresses itself to many of the burning issues of the day. As result, it remains one of the most important and stimulating intellectual currents in the modern era … Anarchism remains not only an ultimate ideal, but increasingly a real practical possibility.”