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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Title: The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee

Author: Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Website: http://www.stuartbramhall.com/
Genre: memoir
ISBN:978-1-60911-858-7
 Eloquent Books, New York, 2010




Reviewed by Nicky Hagar, Author of The Hollow Men


The FBI’s aggressive infiltration and disruption of political groups in the US since the 1960s has been an appalling episode of US political history. All manner of political groups have been wrecked after being manipulated and betrayed by government informers, while their members lived with strain and damaged relationships from never being sure who they could trust or what was really going on.



Stuart Jeanne Bramhall’s The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee is an autobiography revolving around her 15 years as a political campaigner facing these problems of trust and infiltration in dysfunctional social movements in the 1980s and 1990s Seattle. It is a well written, thoughtful and very honest book about twenty years of her life, including these intensely destructive politics, relationships, life as a practising psychiatrist and being a parent.


The book is a ‘memoir of an American refugee’ because in 2002, as the Iraq War inexorably approached, she applied for and was appointed to a psychiatry job in faraway New Zealand. The book ends as she leaves the US, with grateful relief for the better life awaiting her. The other half of the title is from Rosa Luxemburg’s words: “The most revolutionary act is a clear view of the world as it really is.” It is probably impossible to have a clear view of something as murky as the infiltrated progressive politics she lived through, but in the book we see an intelligent person telling the story of these real and hard experiences as clearly as is possible.
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