A fascinating first-hand account of the activists of the Anarchist Red Cross (later the Anarchist Black Cross — ABC) in the Russian revolutionary movement from 1905 through 1917, and the subsequent Leninist/Stalinist repression.
The book contains a tribute to Yelensky from fellow Russian revolutionary M. Beresin: “When I arrived in the United States in 1911, a fugitive from a hard-labor sentence in Siberia, my first thought was to devise some means of extending aid to our comrades who were languishing in Russian prisons. I promptly proceeded to have a noticed inserted in the Russian language newspapers requesting any co-workers in our ideological movement who were located in Philadelphia… to come to a meeting. Among those who attended that gathering was Yelensky. Our first step was the … organization of the “Anarchist Red Cross” … Yelensky is one of the most ardent and dynamic workers in our Movement; he has not for a single moment deviated from his ideological course; He has not allowed himself to become assimilated… by the American Bourgeois spirit. This intransigence of his… was responsible for the fact that in time he became to be recognized as more than a person. He became a veritable `institution’“
Yelensky is a product of the Russian revolutionary movement and anarchist thought. As Beresin points out: “the Russian Revolutionary Movement embraced representatives of all social classes, from the highest nobility down to the humblest proletarian and peasant. In the revolutionary ranks were found outstanding thinkers, scholars, writers, orators, and host of plain, common people. But all of them, regardless of their social or intellectual status, were permeated by the same spirit of revolutionary idealism and freedom, and moved by the same impulse to risk and sacrifice their lives, if need be, for the cause they held dear. Boris Yelensky is one of the very few surviving `pure specimens’, of that heroic era.”