21 January 2008


I just finished reading 'Five Years In The Warsaw Ghetto' by Bernard Goldstein. It is the most recent memoir in AK Press' Nabat series and certainly the most harrowing. Goldstein was a key player in the Jewish resistance to Nazi occupied Warsaw and recounts the conditions, narrow escapes and eventual armed uprising against the Nazis. His tone is modest and unassuming. You really have to sit back and digest what these people went through and consider how long it took the populous to finally accept that armed resistance was their only option and that cooperation only led them to the concentration camps and gas chambers.

Anyway, I've been collecting this series since they re-published Jack Black's 'You Can't Win' in 1999. In their own words,

Nabat Books is a series dedicated to reprinting forgotten memoirs by various misfits, outsiders, and rebels. The underlying concept is based on a few simple propositions:That to be a success under the current definition is highly toxic - wealth, fame and power are a poison cocktail; that this era of triumphal capitalism glorifies the most dreary human traits like greed and self-interest as good and natural; that the 'winners' version of reality and history is deeply lame and soul-rotting stuff. Given this it follows that the truly interesting and meaningful lives and real adventures are only to be had on the margins of what Kenneth Rexroth called 'the social lie'. It's with the dropouts, misfits, dissidents, renegades and revolutionaries, against the grain, between the cracks and amongst the enemies of the state that the good stuff can be found. Fortunately there is a mighty subterranean river of testimony from the disaffected, a large cache of hidden history, of public secrets overlooked by the drab conventional wisdom that Nabat books aims to tap into. A little something to set against the crushed hopes, mountains of corpses, and commodification of everything. Actually, we think, it's the best thing western civilization has going for itself.

I'd highly recommend the whole series with the exception of "Memoirs of Vidoq: Master of Crime" that does not really fit in with the theme or period of the others. Each one is a brilliant insight into the lives of historical misfits and rebels who lived on the fringes of twentieth century society but who were apart of its most defining historical events. Most recount their lives in a matter-of-fact style, unapologetic but at the same time, incredibly modest except Vidoq who comes across as a egotistical maniac, who sold out his kind to work for the law. Check them out. This IS history and a big inspiration for Foulweather.

Where's foulweather #2? At the printers!