Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg:The Biography

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The definitive biography of Rosa Luxemburg finally back in print

This biography, first published half a century ago, remains the most detailed and comprehensive study of Rosa Luxemburg. Nettl’s extensive knowledge of the social and political context of the European socialist movements in which she was active, and his engagement with her voluminous writings in German, Polish, and Russian (many of which are only now being translated into English), brings to light the multidimensional nature of her life and work.

This new edition will enable a new generation to explore Luxemburg’s effort to develop an emancipatory version of Marxism liberated from the constraints of both reformism and authoritarianism, as well as grasp the unique personality of this remarkable women theoretician and revolutionary.


  • Rosa Luxemburg was among the last of the truly international revolutionaries, owing her civil allegiance to the proletariat of all countries and to the governments of none. For the first time she has found a biographer with the skill as well as the will to accept her multinational existence as the principle of his research.

    Carl E. SchorskeAmerican Historical Review
  • The definitive biography in the English style—lengthy, thoroughly documented, heavily annotated, and generously splashed with quotations—is among the most admirable genres of historiography, and it was a stroke of genius on the part of J. P. Nettl to choose the life of Rosa Luxemburg, the most unlikely candidate, as a proper subject. The ease with which Nettl handles his biographical material is astounding. His treatment is more than perceptive. His is the first plausible portrait of this extraordinary woman, drawn con amore, with tact and great delicacy. A splendid work.

    Hannah ArendtNew York Review of Books
  • This work is clearly a labor of love. Aside from reading widely in published sources, Nettl sought out people who had information about Rosa Luxemburg, and he ransacked the archives in Warsaw, East Germany, Bonn, Amsterdam and Israel in the preparation of his study. It is hard to imagine that he missed anything of consequence relating to his heroine, who in her time,he believes, attracted more people to revolutionary Marxism than any other socialist leader. A thoughtful and imaginative writer with a strong analytical bent, Nettl raises many interesting problems. Nettl's work is extremely impressive and by far the most thorough and penetrating biography of Luxemburg

    Abraham AscherProblems of Communism