Rudolf Rocker and Fermin Rocker, too often-ignored authors

Two significant authors suffer in obscurity

Sometimes I ask myself how it is that really valuable authors find themselves and their books so ignored while writers of far lesser caliber dance across the pages of book publishing history as stars.  In truth, there often is no single answer to this perplexing question.  When I’m bombarded with gushing stories about the latest political book

Nationalism and Culture dust jacket

Cover dust jacket for Rudolf Rocker’s Nationalism and Culture book

by Mitt Romney or Bill or Hillary Clinton; when I see the huge advances these intellectual lightweights receive to put their names on some tract that has most likely been ghost written;  when I see how prominently these books are displayed on bookstore shelves and how reviews of their books fill newspaper and magazine book sections, all I can do is suffer in silence when what I really would like to do is shake the reading public by the shoulders to wake it from its trance.

Why the conspiracy of silence?

Maybe the ignored authors’ works are doomed to silence by a wrong alignment of the heavens.  Perhaps it’s a reading public hooked on pablum that accounts for sludge rising to the top.  Or, it could be influential reviewers whose political alignment dictates they ignore writers who actually challenge people to think the unthinkable.

Whatever it is that accounts for the conspiracy of silence, the end result is that many great authors are buried in   oblivion.  Among those locked away in this publishing catacomb are Rudolf Rocker and his son, Fermin Rocker.

Text and sketch from 33 Dunstan Houses book by Fermin Rocker

Fermin Rocker’s account of life for Rudolf Rocker’s family during World War I in England.

Their books, generally, have found favor only with small publishers who have no access to mass marketing outlets.  But strangely enough their ideas, despite the odds against them, continue to percolate in book-publishing’s backwater.  Two such books are Nationalism and Culture by Rudolf Rocker and 33 Dunstan Houses by his son Fermin.  There’s not enough space here to review these books adequately, a project I hope to tackle in later posts, but for now it is sufficient to note that both men–and both books–deserve far more attention than they have yet received.

Until later . . .

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