Jumping the Line
Jumping the Line offers a vivid first-hand account of Left culture in America's heady days of the 20s through the 40s. William Herrick grew up in New York City with pictures of Lenin above his crib. He provides colorful reminiscences of riding the rails with other hobos during the Depression, of organizing Black sharecroppers in the South, of his time on the anarchist collective Sunrise Farm, where his political ideals of communal living and self-sufficiency were tested by the very real demands of agricultural work on a city boy, up through his tumultuous relationship with his employer, Orson Wells. The bulk of the book focuses on Herrick's involvement during the Spanish Civil War. Like many of his communist comrades, Herrick went to Spain to fight for freedom. His experiences as part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade shattered his political world forever. Herrick saw in Spain that the Brigades and their Stalinist masters were fighting not for freedom, but against it by executing the freedom fighting anarchists. His accounts of Spain provoked great controversy when the Village Voice ran an interview in 1986. This full account of this wartime in Spain provoked Paul Berman to call him "our American Orwell."