Cornell, Andrew. Unruly Equality: U.S. Anarchism in the Twentieth Century. Univ. of California. 2016. 416p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780520286733. $65; pap. ISBN 9780520286757. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780520961845. POL SCI
Cornell (Mellon fellow, Haverford Coll.; Oppose and Propose!) charts the history of U.S. anarchism from the early 20th century to the 1970s. The author argues that the interwar years were not dormant but were instead a rich period for understanding the shift from anarchism to the development of what he terms “contemporary anarchism,” a concept that, according to Cornell, is invested in nonviolent direct action, direct democracy, and the incorporation of strains of the civil rights, feminist, and gay rights movements. He suggests these theoretical seeds pollinated many of the civil rights, student, and antiwar movements of the 1960s and that while in number anarchists may have been few, their ideas had an outsized effect. While by necessity a one-volume history of a political and social movement as complex and understudied as 20th-century anarchism will be overly simplistic, the tendency within these pages to categorize and simplify leads more often to questionable interpretations than to clarity. VERDICT This volume, together with Kenyon Zimmer’s excellent Immigrants Against the State, points to a growing interest in the study of American anarchist history for readers of political and social history.
By Jessica Moran