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An Impatient Life: A Memoir

“France’s leading Marxist public intellectual.” – Tariq Ali
In the classic tradition of the philosopher-activist, Daniel Bensaïd tells the story of a life deeply entwined with the history of both the French and the international Left. From his family bistro in a staunchly red neighborhood of Toulouse to the founding of the Jeunesses communistes revolutionnaires in the 1960s, from the joyous explosion of May 1968 to the painful experience of defeat in Latin America, from the re-reading of Marx to the “Marrano” trail, Bensaïd relates a life of ideological and practical struggle in which he unflinchingly sought to understand capitalism without ever succumbing to its temptations.

Reviews

  • “France’s leading Marxist public intellectual.”
  • “Daniel’s death is like a wound, not a sadness. A loss which leaves us heavier. However, this weight is the opposite of a burden; it is a message composed, not with words, but with decisions and acts and injuries.”
  • “Daniel Bensaïd was my ‘distant companion’ ... With his disappearance, the intellectual, activist, political, and what we might call, even though the adjective is today obscure in meaning, ‘revolutionary’ world has changed.”
  • “This absorbing, affecting memoir is a beautiful testament to a richly productive and dignified life...this is an energising book, a book that reminds us of the rightness of refusing the inevitability of capitalism and war, of the promise of international solidarity and socialism, of our responsibility to all those who have made sacrifices in this struggle.”

Blog

  • Astonished by the past: Daniel Bensaïd’s An Impatient Life reviewed

    Daniel Bensaïd's widely reviewed memoir An Impatient Life is a chronicle of his radical and revolutionary yearnings. It chronicles a life learning the political importance of 'active waiting, an urgent impatience, an endurance and a perseverance that are the opposite of passive waiting for a miracle.' One review in the Independent summed up the book this way:
    Part autobiography, part activist's logbook, and part political treatise, it's the story of how a working-class boy went on to co-found a party that twice participated in French presidential elections, and became a leader of the Fourth International, the global organisation of Trotskyist followers.

    In the many reviews of this book, all point out one significant detail of the book: it has an unusual lack of romantic nostalgic for May 1968's student uprising.

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  • “A monumental work”: An Impatient Life reviewed in Red Peppers and Socialist Project


    In her review of Daniel Bensaïd’s An Impatient Life, Jane Shallice kicks off addressing the obvious question: “Why should you read this book? Written by a French Trotskyist, who died in 2010, and of whom few have heard and even fewer knew?”

    Because there is much to learn from Bensaïd, compellingly retorts Shallice; “there is encouragement from his thinking and his luminous writing.” Shallice portrays Bensaïd as an example of adamant commitment to revolutionary politics in bleak times of depoliticization and a succession of historic defeats by the Left in the capitalist heartlands.

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  • “A beautiful testament to a richly productive and dignified life”: A review of Daniel Bensaïd’s An Impatient Life


    Dougal McNeill wrote a very enthusiastic review of Daniel Bensaïd’s An Impatient Life for the International Socialist Organization (Aotearoa). He calls the book “a beautiful testament to a richly productive and dignified life” that illuminates Bensaïd’s life-long commitment to revolutionary struggle, from post-68 Paris as a leader of the Ligue communiste to Latin America with the Fourth International, from “imaginative, experimental, open thinking” on the role of theory to compelling reflections on his Jewish heritage and on anti-Zionist politics.

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Other books by Daniel Bensaïd Translated by David Fernbach Introduction by Tariq Ali