American Anarchy

The Epic Struggle between Immigrant Radicals and the US Government at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century

Coming Soon


By Michael Willrich

Formats and Prices




$41.00 CAD



  1. Hardcover $32.50 $41.00 CAD
  2. ebook $19.99 $25.99 CAD

A timely new history of America’s anarchist movement and the government’s tireless efforts to destroy it 
In the early twentieth century, anarchists like Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman championed a radical vision of a world without states, laws, or private property. Militant and sometimes violent, anarchists were heroes to many working-class immigrants. But to many others, anarchism was a terrifyingly foreign ideology. Determined to crush it, government officials launched a decades-long “war on anarchy,” a brutal program of spying, censorship, and deportation that set the foundations of the modern surveillance state. The lawyers who came to the anarchists’ defense advanced groundbreaking arguments for free speech and due process, inspiring the emergence of the civil liberties movement. American Anarchy tells the gripping tale of the anarchists, their allies, and their enemies, showing how their battles over freedom and power still shape our public life.


  • “American anarchism’s paradoxical mixture of idealism and violence is all there in Michael Willrich’s lively, fast-paced history. His colorful, character-driven account is a reminder, not only of how large anarchists once loomed on the American political landscape, but of how at least some of the goals they fought for are things we take for granted today.”
     —Adam Hochschild, bestselling author of American Midnight and King Leopold’s Ghost

On Sale
Oct 31, 2023
Page Count
480 pages
Basic Books

Michael Willrich

About the Author

Michael Willrich is the Leff Families Professor of History at Brandeis University and a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow. He is the author of two award-winning books, City of Courts and Pox: An American History, and his writing has been published in the New York Times, the New Republic, and Mother Jones. He lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts. 

Learn more about this author