The Accidental Anarchist: From the Diaries of Jacob Marateck by Bryna Kranzler Crosswalk Press ISBN 978-0-9845563-0-4

To read a diary provides an opportunity to look into the diarist’s soul. The Accidental Anarchist by Bryna Kranzler is the story of her grandfather, Jacob Marateck, and the book provides just that opportunity. In the Author’s Note Ms. Kranzler writes that “The objective was to create an entertaining and enlightening narrative without changing the story.” She succeeded.
Jacob Marateck and his family lived in Russian occupied Poland in the latter part of the 19th century. Most people were poor and his family was no exception. He could either go to school or be sent to learn a trade. He chose school and before his thirteenth birthday he decided studying was not for him. Without telling anyone that he was going home, he ran away from the yeshiva. Around the same time, a boy his age was found drowned. “Using good Polish logic, the authorities put the missing boy together with the dead boy, and wiped their hands of both cases with remarkable efficiency.” His parents were notified of his death and mourned him- not for the last time. Upon returning home his family told him he “needed to find a job”. He went to Warsaw and worked at unfulfilling jobs for about eight years. It was in Warsaw that he organized a strike that demanded daily work hours be reduced to twelve hours from twenty hours. The end result was not exactly what he wanted but he learned what he was capable of doing. In 1902 twenty-one year old Jacob, who is Jewish, was conscripted into the anti-Semitic Russian army. He survived two death sentences. Upon leaving the military he becomes part of the Polish revolutionary underground and received his third death sentence. The sentence is commuted to ten years in a Siberian prison from which he and his most interesting friend escape! Their three thousand mile journey home was nothing short of miraculous and full of surprises.
Jacob Marateck was a dignified man who was both courageous and honorable. Through the horrors of war, hunger and all the other hardships he endured his remarkable sense of humor was ever present. To read his story is a privilege. I highly recommend reading it.
I received this book for free through Review The Book and I give this review of my own free will.


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