To review the memoir of an activist who lived well to the left of official Communism is usually to begin with an apology for its subject's obscurity, and for the difficulty of explaining to the average reader the weight given in the text to storms in teacups and brawls in backstreets. All the more so when the activist concerned was a leading member of an organization usually (though in this case imprecisely) referred to as Trotskyist.
John McIlroy has reviewed Daniel Bensaïd's An Impatient Life in October's Capital & Class, tracing Bensaïd's narration of the political landscape through which he lived; notably the turbulent events of 1968, and the defeats in Latin America, about which McIlroy is particularly effusive. He writes:
'An Impatient Life mingles autobiography with meditations on politics, philosophy and history. The thematic thread is Bensaïd’s induction into ‘a hasty Leninism’ in the 1960s and 1970s, when ‘history was breathing down our necks’; and his incomplete apprenticeship in patience and a more measured, questioning, strategic approach. He writes evocatively of his origins and lifelong dedication to the oppressed, underlining how intellectual engagement is rooted in identity, emotion and morality: