Fractured Utopias: A Personal Odyssey with History

In This Review

Fractured Utopias: A Personal Odyssey with History
By Roger Burbach
Freedom Voices, 2017
300 pp.
Purchase

Burbach, who passed away in 2015, was a self-styled “utopian intellectual vagabond” who had fled his Midwestern origins to struggle alongside left-wing comrades striving to remake their worlds, most intensely in Chile during the Allende years, in the early 1970s, and in Sandinista Nicaragua, in the 1980s. In this posthumously published memoir, he blends tales of dramatic political upheaval and stories of libertine liaisons: “Passion and eroticism can be part of the longing for Utopia,” he notes. Burbach was an erudite student of progressive political theory who enjoyed deep connections to major figures on the Latin American left, and his emotive memoir takes an unusually profound dive into the revolutionary movements of the late twentieth century, their lofty aspirations, euphoric victories, costly illusions, and tragic confrontations. Despite political and romantic setbacks, and injuries he endured in a swimming accident in 1989 that confined him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, Burbach persisted in his uncompromising commitment to radical research and activist engagement.