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Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite
Author Bryna Kranzler writes of her remarkable grandfather's life as a young man in "The Accidental Anarchist: From the Diaries of Jacob Marateck". In the early years of the last century, a young Jew, Jacob Marateck, goes from his yeshiva onto enlisting in the Russian army. Jacob has tried a few trades, arranged by his father, but he is absolutely no good at any of them. Growing up in poverty in Vichogrod, a town in Poland or Prussia back then, Jacob has few options and on September 15 of 1902, he is due to be conscripted into the Czar's army with other young men who have reached a certain age. Jacob's older brother, Mordecai, is already in the Russian army and tells Jacobi to stop being a "Polack Jew", for Jacob is not one to stay away from issues. When he tried working, he ended up organizing the workers to demand that working hours be dropped from twenty per day to twelve. Now in the Russian army as a corporal, Jacob gets into a fight with Russian officers, is defended by the Czar's cousin, and is sent to Siberia. So where does Jacob go from here?
"The Accidental Anarchist: From the Diaries of Jacob Marateck" is much more than a granddaughter's loving tribute to her grandfather and his life during those years preceding the Russian Revolution. It is a highly well-written and often humorous account of a brave man who endured walking through the snow without shoes, being imprisoned in chains, fighting in battle after battle during the Manchurian War, and with his friend Pyavka escaping to freedom from Siberia. Jacob Marateck is a man readers will wish they knew. He relies on his wits and backbone. Not a hoodlum, or a terrorist or a bomb thrower, Jacob Marateck survives during a time when the Russian Army was incompetent and storm clouds were brewing. "The Accidental Anarchist" is a book for readers everywhere.