Lorne Bair Rare Books has released their Catalog 35. While there is no further title or stated description, it won't take long to discover its subject matter. It contains material relating to various progressive to radical movements, left of center to far left of center. There is the civil rights movement, women's rights, anarchism, the Communist Manifesto, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, avant-garde art, poverty and organizing labor, even the Mexican Revolution (the one of the early twentieth century). If your views, or your collection, leans to the left, this catalogue will be very appealing. Here are a few selections.
Here is the book that gave rise to an expression we all use today – How the Other Half Lives. In 1890, when Danish-American photographer Jacob Riis took his camera into the slums and tenements of New York, it was a journey intended to show middle and upper class Americans exactly how the other half, in this case recent immigrants who worked in New York's sweatshops, lived. It wasn't pretty. They lived in small, cramped, dark and dingy apartments. Large families were often packed in small rooms. The miserable conditions often led to other problems, alcoholism, poor sanitation, child labor. In one sense, this is a photobook, but it is actually far more. It is an education, and in that way a polemic from the social reformer. Riis believed if he could show the half that was living reasonably well what life was like for the other half, they would be moved to do something to improve their lot. Item 38 is the first edition, first printing in the large-paper issue of this landmark work. Priced at $5,000.
This is a very rare, iconic poster from the early days of what we now call the LGBTQ rights movement. It was from 1970, the year following the Stonewall Rebellion, encouraging people to attend the the Christopher Street Liberation Day parade. The main headline shouts Come Out!!, followed by Join The Sisters & Brothers of the Gay Liberation Front. It shows a group of smiling people marching down the street, men and women, some arms wrapped around each others shoulders, others with fists in the air. The “Come Out,” naturally, had a double meaning. Item 24. $7,500.
Here is a man whose name became a talking point of the right during the 2016 election. He even got his name mentioned at the Republican convention by Ben Carson, who called Saul Alinsky a follower of the Devil and Hillary Clinton a follower of Saul Alinsky. He seemed to miss some of Alinsky's humor, but long before then Alinsky had become the Devil incarnate to the right, sort of like critical race theory today. Understanding who he actually was was not important to them. You can learn what Alinksy actually advocated in his book, Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals, published in 1971. What Alinsky was is a community organizer. Alinsky believed that there were solutions to our problems but we weren't implementing them because those who needed those solutions weren't organized, so their needs were being ignored. Alinsky taught how to organize. Item 31. $750.
Next we have a copy of the Koran from the library of a man you might not expect to have a copy of this book. Actually, it is not surprising at all. This edition is titled The Holy Koran; Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mohammed. It was printed by English radical Richard Carlile in 1822. He drew form the Muslim holy book in developing his own thoughts. This copy of the Koran was owned by Brigham Young, long-serving leader of the Latter Day Saints church (Mormon). The reality is there are certain similarities, though fundamental differences between the religions, and LDS founder Joseph Smith was clearly influenced by Islamic teachings. The LDS church preaches tolerance, its members having so often been subject to intolerance during the church's history, and defended Muslims during the anti-Muslin hysteria that followed 9/11 and still continues today. Item 22. $7,500.
Here is a chance to hear legendary attorney Clarence Darrow speak. Unfortunately, you won't be able to avail yourself of the opportunity as the date was April 21, 1929. The broadside announces Hear Clarence Darrow. It warns, “He denounces people's pet notions and makes them think!” It lists that he defended Leopold and Loeb, thrill killer college students, the Teacher Scopes, defendant in the Scopes Monkey Trial, and Dr. Ossian Sweet, a black physician charged with murder for defending himself, whose prosecution was later dropped through Darrow's efforts. The subject of the lecture was “Crime: its cause and treatment,” the location City Hall in Hudson, N.Y., and the price of admission $1. Item 29. $1,500.
Here is another phrase you hear all too often still today – It Can't happen Here. It is a 1935 novel by Sinclair Lewis. It is about an ambitious right-wing politician who defeats Franklin Roosevelt in the 1936 election on a promise of restore prosperity and traditional American values. Once in office, he overturns America's democracy, setting up a fascistic regime that neuters Congress, controls the courts, and sets up its own paramilitary force. Of course this is all fiction. FDR won reelection. This couldn't happen here, could it? Item 34. $750.
This is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century, though originally published the previous one. It is Manifesto de la Komunista Partio / The Communist Manifesto. Here is a description of the edition I have never seen before, first Esperanto edition. Were there more? How many Esperanto readers were there in 1908, or for that matter, any other time? The idea behind a created language was fairly radical, so I guess this radical book from Marx and Engels was well suited for Esperanto. Still, the book is presented in both Esperanto and English so people could actually read it. This edition was published in 1908. Item 11. $3,750.