Cover image for Murdered by capitalism : a memoir of 150 years of life and death on the American left
Murdered by capitalism : a memoir of 150 years of life and death on the American left
Ross, John, 1938-2011.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Nation Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
353 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HX83 .R67 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2004

After spilling bourbon on Schnaubelt's grave, its pugnacious and very dead occupant becomes Ross's mentor, sidekick, and boozing companion through this epic telling of the hallucinatory, carnal, and ornery histories of the American Left and John Ross's own remarkable life. Schnaubelt navigates us through his seemingly boundless revolutionary battleground, uttering cries of subversion from within the grave while trying to remain out of earshot from the FBI snoop and local supermarket tycoon buried nearby. Ross's own story--hobo revolutionist, junkie, poet, and journalist is a contrapuntal to Schnaubelt's. Ross never takes himself too seriously, yet his most remarkable trait is the honesty with which he approaches life, even while trying to deconstruct his own faults, personal tragedies (including the death of his one-month-old son), and imperfections. His pursuit of revolutionary politics and poetics is the constant, often spent with his muse, Revolutionary Mexico. Ross concludes with a trip to Baghdad as a "human shield," before the Anglo-American invasion, ready to sacrifice his life as part of his perpetual struggle for justice. Award-winning writer John Ross's memoir is inspired from a tumbledown tombstone in California: The headstone reads: E. B. Schnaubelt 1855-1913, "Murdered by Capitalism."

Author Notes

A native of New York City's Greenwich Village and a younger beat poet, John Ross tore up his draft card in 1957 and moved to Mexico from where he has been covering Latin America for the past 50 years for print and electronic media outlets, among them the San Francisco Bay Guardian , Noticias Aliadas , La Jornada , and Counterpunch . The author of ten volumes of fiction and non-fiction and an equal number of poetry chapbooks, Ross is the recipient of the American Book Award (1995) and the Upton Sinclair prize (2005). He has lived in the old quarter of Mexico City since the great 1985 earthquake.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

To hear Ross, who has covered Mexico for Noticias Aliadas (Lima), Texas Observer, San Francisco Bay Guardian and "other screwball publications," tell it, the American Left is dead and buried. Fittingly, he sets his history/dialogue in a graveyard populated by the ghosts of its heroes. Here lies E.B. Schnaubelt, Emma Goldman, Lucy Parsons, Sacco and Vanzetti and a host of others whose radical lifestyles and actions left their mark on those Communists, anarchists and revolutionaries who saw America in more utopian terms than the capitalists they fought. Soaked by alcohol and salved by drugs, Ross, who has made a life out of dissent, converses with the dead (and dying from memory), lamenting the Left's losses, its infighting, its failures and the occasional victory. But Ross stumbles in his rhetorical excesses and in his efforts to tie together so many disparate rebels and outlaws-from Goldman and Fidel to the Weathermen and Civil Rights leaders. Strictly for members of the choir looking for a good historical primer on the American Left, the book nevertheless entertains with its pugnacious language, Hunter Thompson-levels of chemical consumption and a conviction that no revolution can succeed without a sense of humor. Ross manages to salvage positivity from beneath all this forgotten death, and that's about all the solace the book offers for the true believer. (June 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

A Brief Introduction to E. B. Schnaubeltp. 1
Book 1 Haymarketp. 5
Book 2 Belly of the Beastp. 67
Book 3 The Death of Dogmap. 173
Book 4 Kaboom!!!p. 291
Epilogue: The Day of the Dead of the American Leftp. 339
Indexp. 347