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Paperback Shibboleth: My Revolting Life Book

ISBN: 1873176406

ISBN13: 9781873176405

Shibboleth: My Revolting Life

The autobiography of Jeremy John Ratter, aka Penny Rimbaud, the co-founder of the now legendary Stonehenge Festival and founder, lyricist and drummer of Crass, a band unique in the history of rock 'n' roll. Despite remaining on their own independent record label and refusing any interviews with the mainstream press, the band still managed to sell literally millions of records.


Format: Paperback

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Customer Reviews

5 ratings


what a brave and interesting book. Penny really bares his soul and is sometimes disturbingly honest. Penny is a thoughtful, intelligent fellow with a lot of empathy and compassion which can be difficult in what is so often a cruel and hostile world. If only more of us would stop and consider where it is we are headed and how we might make this place better for everyone. Anyway Im going to include a bit of my favourite parts of the book... the lives of millions upon millions of people are run by a tiny handful of ruling elites who possess most of the wealth, almost all of the land and all of the power. We are expected to be grateful to them for the privelage of paying for the roof over our heads, the privelage of being slaves in their factories and offices and for accepting the miserable wages that they pay. They grow richer at our expense, but we are expected to look up to them as symbols of success. We are expected to be grateful for the privillage of paying them huge taxes so that they can finance their oppression of us, the people. Finally we are expected to be grateful to them for the privillage of fighting gor them in their wars and killing other people like ourselves, or being killed by other people like ourselves. We are expected to love, honour and obey..... This book isnt all politics by the way. Its a very personal account of Penny and his life. I really enjoyed it. Peace!

Rimbaud's arm

I was a big fan of Crass in the early days ('78 to '84); the ultimate punk band in my opinion. And not just musically; they were self-sufficient in every way, meaning every last word they wrote in their lyrics. So I was excited to finally pick up a copy of this book. There are some strange meanderings in here, to be sure, including a description of a violent murder (no, not the bit about Wally Hope, but the opening piece), plus a rather detailed description of what sounds like an act of urban terrorism, which is never really fully explained. That aside this is a truly vivid inside glimpse into the life of someone who is clearly more of an influence on the past few decades of culture than he perhaps would be comfortable with or even realises? Reading books like this make one realise just how little real impact the rest of us really have on life and history. The truth is, some of us are just not brave enough to truly challenge the way things are, well certainly not in the direct manner that Penny and those of a similar ilk have done and continue to do. The poetic genius should not be underestimated neither. Further book, film and music reviews, plus general shenanigans can be found at: and

Fascinating, irreverant, creative, and good

Shibboleth recounts the origins of punk (as we know it), by finding early punk in the late 1960s and recording its evolution through the 1970s and 1980s. I've never heard Rimbaud's band Crass, and loved this book all the same. Rimbaud sets up an interesting double story line: that of his own life and that of Wally--a flower child. In a sense, the collapse of Wally's dreams, his ruination at the hands of the English mental health system, and the right-wing onslaught of Thatcher serve to explain punk. As hippie dreams failed, and as socialist alternatives proved barbaric, punk birthed new autonomous languages to own meanings apart from states, corporations, and utopias. Rimbaud is a creative writer--at times beautiful in his freedoms, while on other pages his disorder is inneffectual and tedious. But so it goes with punk, in which one makes one's own rules and one's own discoveries of beauty. Others can take your ideas or leave them. If others share the vision, so much the better. As always, Rimbaud's vision appeals to many of us across the decades and on either side of oceans.

Intelligent punk

So much of the punk ideals that surged through the youth in the 70's has given way to the poppish punk of the 90's and plain idiocy. Penny Rimbaud and Crass represented the real anarchists of the day. This great book delves into Penny's life and the life of "Wally Hope". "The Last of the Hippies" (the last part of the book) scared me to death, because it reminded me just what the government can do to people. Rimbaud is an excellent writer whose brilliant style will take on a journey through his revolting life. A must read for anyone who considers themselves an anarchist.

A Must-read for Crass fans

As an avid fan of Crass' politics and art, I found Shibboleth to be an engrossing read. Penny's adolescent and adult life span a volatile, unexplored time in art and subculture, yet eventually drearily stagnant time in Britain's political scene. The scope of the story is large,and anyone familiar with Crass Records or the band themselves will find this history of the first anarcho-punk movement (as through Ratter/Rimbauds eyes) very interesting. Shining through in a somewhat different light in Penny's autobiography than in their songwork, Crass' anarcho-pacifist beliefs stem from the idea that "people are basically good, and that it was social conditions and social conditioning that produced the aberration of anti-social behavior." I reccomend this book for anyone interested in the smart side of punk.
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