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The Angel Max: Reviews and Comments

“The geographic scope of the book is as vast as its intellectual landscape….Glassgold makes his novelistic debut as a writer of diverse and unusual talents….”

—Paul Kafka, The Boston Sunday Globe

“Peter Glassgold slyly subverts most of our expectations as he unfolds his intriguing story.…With The Angel Max, he reveals his roots as an author in the sweeping 19th-century style of Dickens, Hugo, and Tolstoy…[in a] novel filled to the brim with explanations and ideas….”

—Ted Gioia, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review


“This remarkable first novel is the best that I have read concerning immigrants and anarchists in America. Well conceived and beautifully written, it tells a deeply moving story, capturing the flavor of a time when anarchism played a conspicuous role in American history. In doing so, it displays a deeper understanding of anarchist ideas and personalities than Henry James’s The Princess Casamassima and Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent. The Angel Max, with its cast of colorful characters, has pathos, humor, and suspense.”

—Paul Avrich, Distinguished Professor of History, City University of New York


“With an almost Tolstoyan sweep…this richly populated, abundantly detailed historical novel animates [the] moral and political dilemmas in the new world [and] Europe’s brutal historical realities.

—Laura Demanski, The Baltimore Sun


“…[a] sprawling Dickensian tale that follows Max and a huge cast through immigration to New York City, the rise and growth of anarchism there, and the activities of Max’s distant cousin Emma Goldman….Glassgold, a translator, has some lovely things to say about languages and their differences and relationships.”

—GraceAnne A. DeCandido, Booklist


“With detailed historical evocation, Glassgold sweeps across a tumultuous half-century with impressive skill….a well-respected editor and translator and now a first-time novelist, [he] achieves a rare mix of a historian’s restraint and a novelist’s compassion.”

—Michael Hartnett, Confrontation


“…stunning fiction debut….In The Angel Max, Peter Glassgold has achieved that rare blend, a serious entertainment. For anyone interested in American cultural or political history, it is not to be missed.”

—Diane Cole, The Jewish Week


“An engrossing saga of the immigrant experience, tracing one man’s quest for the American dream.”

—Washington Post Book World [“What Washington Is Also Reading”]


“What Glassgold offers is a novel free from stereotype, and with definite surprises, especially the bittersweet end of The Angel Max….[It] is a thought-provoking look back to a place and time when Russia and the United States had very different positions in the world. It is worthwhile reading both as historical fiction, and as stimulating thought in the context of current events.”

—Richard Warren Field, www.bookreview.com

“Peter Glassgold has written an enjoyable novel, The Angel Max, that chronicles the lives of several Russian-Jewish immigrants and anarchists in New York during the first several decades of this century.”

—Perspectives in Anarchist Theory


“The book is fiction, but the tumultuous events of the times are real, and the intellectually yeasty atmosphere is well rendered. For an empathetic presentation of the ambiguities and contradictions of life in the immigrant world of New York, this is a decent bit of history and imagination, rich in ideas, ideals, and human foibles.”

—“Off the Shelf,”—Martha Scott, The Nelson Observer, Nelson, B.C., Canada


The Angel Max is surely one of the most sobering and yet hope-inspiring novels in contemporary fiction. From tsarist Russia to America at the time of the Great War, when bigotry and ruthless repression were at their highest, this novel is always about anarchy and violence, about books and reason and language itself. The ending of The Angel Max is devastating, yet the passions of idealism are left to us. It’s a profound and wondrous achievement.”

—John Hawkes


The Angel Max is compelling—a superb, old-fashioned read that makes a fast-moving drama out of the nineteenth-century immigrants’ America. Its thread of humor, its sense of dark events, its lucid evocation of complex character, its fusion of the political with the erotic, its feeling of being so historically accurate—terrific stuff!”

—Frederick Busch


“The power of Peter Glassgold’s intricate and elegantly crafted novel, The Angel Max, lies in its historical authenticity. He captures the fervor of turn-of-the-century Russian political upheaval as it spilled over into the distinctly American immigrant left in New York City. This complex historical thriller is a great read. The writing conveys an independence of thought that is very much in the spirit of the men and women who are the subject of this fine novel.”

—Candace Falk, author of Love, Anarchy, and Emma Goldman

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