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Fundamentally, labor's story is the story of the American people. To view it narrowly, to concentrate on the history of specific trade unions or on the careers of individuals and their rivalries, would be to miss the point that the great forces which have swept the American people into action have been the very forces that have also molded labor. Trade unionism was born as Fundamentally, labor's story is the story of the American people. To view it narrowly, to concentrate on the history of specific trade unions or on the careers of individuals and their rivalries, would be to miss the point that the great forces which have swept the American people into action have been the very forces that have also molded labor. Trade unionism was born as an effective national movement amid the great convulsion of the Civil War and the fight for black freedom... Labor suffered under depressions which spurred the whole American people into movement in the seventies, in the eighties, and in the nineties. It reached its greatest heights when it joined hands with farmers, small businessmen, and the black people in the epic Populist revolts of the 1890's and later in the triumph that was the New Deal. For labor has never lived in isolation or progressed without allies. Always it has been in the main stream of American life,... Labor's story, by its very nature, is synchronized at every turn with the growth and development of American monopoly. Its great leap forward into industrial unionism was an answering action to the development of trusts and great industrial empires. Labor's grievances, in fact the very conditions of its life, have been imposed by its great antagonist, that combination of industrial and financial power often known as Wall Street. The mind and actions of William H. Sylvis, the iron molder who founded the first effective national labor organization, can scarcely be understood without also an understanding of the genius and cunning of his contemporary, John D. Rockefeller, father of the modern trust. In the long view of history the machinations of J. P. Morgan, merging banking and industrial capital as he threw together ever larger combinations of corporate power controlled by fewer and fewer men, may have governed the course of American labor more than the plans of Samuel Gompers


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Fundamentally, labor's story is the story of the American people. To view it narrowly, to concentrate on the history of specific trade unions or on the careers of individuals and their rivalries, would be to miss the point that the great forces which have swept the American people into action have been the very forces that have also molded labor. Trade unionism was born as Fundamentally, labor's story is the story of the American people. To view it narrowly, to concentrate on the history of specific trade unions or on the careers of individuals and their rivalries, would be to miss the point that the great forces which have swept the American people into action have been the very forces that have also molded labor. Trade unionism was born as an effective national movement amid the great convulsion of the Civil War and the fight for black freedom... Labor suffered under depressions which spurred the whole American people into movement in the seventies, in the eighties, and in the nineties. It reached its greatest heights when it joined hands with farmers, small businessmen, and the black people in the epic Populist revolts of the 1890's and later in the triumph that was the New Deal. For labor has never lived in isolation or progressed without allies. Always it has been in the main stream of American life,... Labor's story, by its very nature, is synchronized at every turn with the growth and development of American monopoly. Its great leap forward into industrial unionism was an answering action to the development of trusts and great industrial empires. Labor's grievances, in fact the very conditions of its life, have been imposed by its great antagonist, that combination of industrial and financial power often known as Wall Street. The mind and actions of William H. Sylvis, the iron molder who founded the first effective national labor organization, can scarcely be understood without also an understanding of the genius and cunning of his contemporary, John D. Rockefeller, father of the modern trust. In the long view of history the machinations of J. P. Morgan, merging banking and industrial capital as he threw together ever larger combinations of corporate power controlled by fewer and fewer men, may have governed the course of American labor more than the plans of Samuel Gompers

30 review for Labor's Untold Story

  1. 4 out of 5

    Minku

    Have you ever bitched and moaned about how long the bus or train is taking to get to your stop? Of course you have. But have you ever stopped to think about the workers (besides yourself) who made the roads, rails, buildings, clothing, food, and everything else you need to live your modern life? This is the history of post-Civil-War America that everyone needs to read, and they'll realize that the fight against human slavery is FAR from over. There are several other essential labor history books, Have you ever bitched and moaned about how long the bus or train is taking to get to your stop? Of course you have. But have you ever stopped to think about the workers (besides yourself) who made the roads, rails, buildings, clothing, food, and everything else you need to live your modern life? This is the history of post-Civil-War America that everyone needs to read, and they'll realize that the fight against human slavery is FAR from over. There are several other essential labor history books, one of them being "Strike!" by Jeremy Brecher. This book is really great up until the final chapter, where the author predicts some kind of victory or revival of the labor movement (in the '70s i think)... not anticipating neoliberal globalization. Hehehe... uhhhhh.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    This book was recommended to me a long time ago by Nodozejoze, but I kept putting off reading it because, honestly, labor history always struck me as a real snooze. I figured that because work is boring, reading about working and workers must also be boring. Boy, was I wrong. This book has been a page-turner from the first. The stories of the injustices perpetrated against working men, women, and children, usually with the imprimatur of the state and federal governments and the muscle of the pol This book was recommended to me a long time ago by Nodozejoze, but I kept putting off reading it because, honestly, labor history always struck me as a real snooze. I figured that because work is boring, reading about working and workers must also be boring. Boy, was I wrong. This book has been a page-turner from the first. The stories of the injustices perpetrated against working men, women, and children, usually with the imprimatur of the state and federal governments and the muscle of the police, military, and National Guard, has been eye-opening and enraging. If you are one of those folks who has bought the line that soldiers and police, rather than rebels and dissenters, gave you your freedoms, you might not know what to make of these stories of Guardsmen opening fire on crowds of women and children, of cops shooting unarmed protesters in the back, and of the judiciary knowingly framing and sending innocent men to their deaths, simply because of their political views and opinions. I also learned much about USAmerican history that was overlooked by my "Advanced Placement" high school history class. For instance, I had no idea that unionized working people in the North saw the Civil War as a fight for the survival of living wages and the dignity of working people. (After all, if chattel slavery had been extended into the USAmerican West, as was the dream of the South, it would have made working conditions for wage slaves even more intolerable than they already were, in the same way that outsourcing USAmerican industry to Mexico, and then Vietnam and China, has driven down the standard of living for working USAmericans.) The same greedhead corruption of partisan politics, mainstream media, and Protestant Christianity that sparked the OWS movement in the 21st century were in place to oppose the working people who sought better working and living conditions in the 19th century. The same mindless epithets of "Anarchist" and "Communist" and "unAmerican" were used as liberally in 1880 as they were in 1980, to describe those who sought another way of doing business (literally). Labor's Untold History ends in 1955, with an upswing in USAmerican labor in the wake of the Cold War Red Scare and McCarthyism. The authors had high hopes for the future of labor in the U.S. I wonder what they would make of the present, with real wages that haven't gone up in 40 years, the widest gap between rich and poor in 80 years, and the lowest rates of union membership in a half-century. Learning about our shared history as working people might help to turn the tide.

  3. 5 out of 5

    The other John

    You have to be careful when you read some history books. You have to read with caution, testing each paragraph, sometimes each sentence, to see if there might be some sort of agenda hidden amongst the author's prose. That's not a concern with this tome. Misters Boyer and Morais wear their agenda on their sleeves. Labor's Untold Story is the story of the labor movement from the left-wing point of view. J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and the Pinkerton Detective Agency are the bad guys; Gene Debs You have to be careful when you read some history books. You have to read with caution, testing each paragraph, sometimes each sentence, to see if there might be some sort of agenda hidden amongst the author's prose. That's not a concern with this tome. Misters Boyer and Morais wear their agenda on their sleeves. Labor's Untold Story is the story of the labor movement from the left-wing point of view. J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and the Pinkerton Detective Agency are the bad guys; Gene Debs, Bill Haywood and the IWW are the heroes. The book covers the movement from the years immediately following the Civil War to the Eisenhower administration--the present day back when the book was first published. As a union member living a comfortable middle class American lifestyle, I read the book straddling the fence. I was a bit leery of rooting for the fervent socialists, even as I rejoiced over their occasional victories against the injustices perpetrated by the corporations and monopolists. But like any history written by the underdog, it is well worth reading, if for no other reason than to consider the well-known stories of history from a different perspective.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I feel that at first glance this book could almost be classified as communistic propaganda. I says only positive things about the labour movement and strictly negative things about the businessmen and industry. It accuses modern industry of crimes varying from murder to evicting people from their homes. The labour movement leaders are praised as heroes and held in high esteem. Even with the all the obvious socialistic sentiment, what am I complaining about? Isn't this, after all, a book publishe I feel that at first glance this book could almost be classified as communistic propaganda. I says only positive things about the labour movement and strictly negative things about the businessmen and industry. It accuses modern industry of crimes varying from murder to evicting people from their homes. The labour movement leaders are praised as heroes and held in high esteem. Even with the all the obvious socialistic sentiment, what am I complaining about? Isn't this, after all, a book published by the American Labour Union? If you are looking for one side of the American Labour Movement's story, this is a very comprehensive book. It offers tons (literally) of sources and footnotes and details into the lives of key individuals. Despite being incredibly boring, Labor's Untold Story offers an extremely thorough history into how the labor movement degraded to the point where it is today.

  5. 4 out of 5

    C. Barnes

    I'm on page 383 of 402 of Labor's Untold Story: Nonfiction, referring to authentic sources such as the Annual Report of the Attorney-General of the U.S., Congressional Records, the Daily Miners' Journal 1877, the New York Times and Tribune as early as 1877 and 1887, the authors even document their sources. I question the competency of those who condemn the authors and who ignore the immense array of primary sources and periodicals listed on pgs. 382-384. How can anyone ignore the Report of the E I'm on page 383 of 402 of Labor's Untold Story: Nonfiction, referring to authentic sources such as the Annual Report of the Attorney-General of the U.S., Congressional Records, the Daily Miners' Journal 1877, the New York Times and Tribune as early as 1877 and 1887, the authors even document their sources. I question the competency of those who condemn the authors and who ignore the immense array of primary sources and periodicals listed on pgs. 382-384. How can anyone ignore the Report of the Education and Labor Committee of the Senate on the Relations between Labor and Capital published in 1885? This is an example of genuine history, of the tribulations that helpless laborers have suffered.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Dahl

    It took me two years to read this book. It’s not exactly a page turner. At the end I felt that I came away with a better understanding of people in general, but not only that a better understanding of my own country and its political history. I always felt that there were gaps in the history I was taught in public school and this book helps to fill in some of those gaps and to better understand motives. I highly recommend this book to people who are interested in learning about history that is n It took me two years to read this book. It’s not exactly a page turner. At the end I felt that I came away with a better understanding of people in general, but not only that a better understanding of my own country and its political history. I always felt that there were gaps in the history I was taught in public school and this book helps to fill in some of those gaps and to better understand motives. I highly recommend this book to people who are interested in learning about history that is not often covered in much detail by… anyone really.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jasson

    Awesome!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie J

    Only a few chapters were assigned to me for school... Those chapters weren't very good, and didn't inspire me to read the rest of the book. Only a few chapters were assigned to me for school... Those chapters weren't very good, and didn't inspire me to read the rest of the book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Viola

    (Now in it’s 3rd edition/29th printing) The adventure story of the battles, betrayals and victories of some American working men and women. Well researched, readable, Labor’s Untold Story is the U.S. labor movement from the Civil War through the Eisenhower Administration. Twas first published in 1955, the book documents labor-management conflict from the workers’ perspective. Topics range from William Sylvis’s attempts to admit women and blacks into the labor movement to the first nationwide stri (Now in it’s 3rd edition/29th printing) The adventure story of the battles, betrayals and victories of some American working men and women. Well researched, readable, Labor’s Untold Story is the U.S. labor movement from the Civil War through the Eisenhower Administration. Twas first published in 1955, the book documents labor-management conflict from the workers’ perspective. Topics range from William Sylvis’s attempts to admit women and blacks into the labor movement to the first nationwide strike; from the Justice Department’s use of “red scare” tactics to break the great steel strike of 1919 to the “eclipse” of anti-Communist Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Story Behind Labor’s Untold Story UE’s involvement with Labor’s Untold Story came right out of the union’s struggles. Written by historian Herbert J. Morais and feature writer Richard O. Boyer, It was originally published by Cameron Associates. In the midst of Cold War testeria, Labor’s Untold Story represented a powerful protest against corporate brainwashing. A second printing, ten years later, in 1965 by Marzani and Munsell sold quickly. Then came the 1969 national General Electric Strike. Labor’s Untold Story helped supply younger members on the picket line with answers to their questions about labor struggles. As UE General Secretary James Matles told the 1970 UE Convention: The few dog-eared copies available were at a premium as the workers and students involved in the strike gobbled them up. Little wonder! The book reads like an adventure as it tells the real history of the union movement in America. Who Would Have Thought? UE decided to take on responsibility for publishing Labor’s Untold Story to help fill the vital need for popular labor history, particularly among young workers, students and a growing rank-and-file movement. The UE-produced third printing in 1970 was an instant success. But even then, it’s doubtful that anyone would have predicted the enduring popularity — and constant demand for — this labor history. 50 years later, Labor’s Untold Story is still being told: a new issue hot off the presses, with a cover designed by retired UE cartoonist Gary Huck. ( ... from the UE NEWS, Spring 2020) +++++++ https://theintercept.com/2020/12/25/l... LABOR’S UNTOLD STORY: AN OLD BOOK IS GETTING A NEW LOOK Unions have lost the militancy that characterized the early days, their members disconnected from the broader project of economic rights for all. Matthew Cunningham-Cook December 26 2020. UNION POWER IS ebbing in the private sector, with organized labor at the lowest point it has been in over 80 years. Vast, powerful employers like Walmart, Amazon, Home Depot, and FedEx are entirely nonunion. But in 1933, at the bottom of the Great Depression, a much more difficult task faced the labor movement, as prominent trade unionists were routinely beaten and killed, and no legal framework for unions even existed. What would it take to spark a revival, and what is the history new labor organizers, activists, and members could learn from to be a part of it? One of the most curious publishing successes of the second half of the 20th century is now in a new reprinting, a resuscitation of the 1955 book “Labor’s Untold Story: The Adventure Story of the Battles, Betrayals and Victories of American Working Men and Women,” originally written by Richard O. Boyer, a freelance contributor to the New Yorker, and Herbert M. Morais, a lapsed academic and, later, a union staffer. It’s a cinematic tale, but one that mainstream book publishers have largely avoided, leaving the vacuum to be filled by labor itself — and specifically by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, known as UE, one of the more eclectic and creative unions in the labor ecosystem. An antidote to labor denial, the book details the story of violence, heart-wrenching defeat, and eventual mass victory of American labor, paying particular attention to the formation and rise of the Congress of Industrial Organizations from 1936 to 1945 (now the CIO in AFL-CIO) in an accessible way. United-Electrical-Radio-and-Machine-WorkersBook cover: United Electrical Workers Stretching from the Civil War to the 1950s, the book describes in a series of vignettes the heroes and villains of American labor history, from the abolitionist unionists to the Molly Maguires; the farmer-labor alliances against the railroad, finance, and steel barons of the late 19th century; the Great Railroad Strike of 1877; the rise of the Knights of Labor and the Industrial Workers of the World; Eugene Debs’s presidential campaigns; the Haymarket affair and Lucy Parsons’s fight to free accused men from the gallows; the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and anti-immigrant hysteria; the Bonus Army; and then, finally, the Great Depression and the rise of durable industrial unions. Altogether, it gives the reader a sense of how workers in America organized and what it took for them. For unions in America, a fundamental problem is apathy. Members do not want to get involved, and a component of this is that there is not a sense of what the union stands for and what being in a union means. It may not be a coincidence that the book is published by the UE, a union known for its ideologically motivated membership. Were other unions besides the UE to encourage mass readership of “Labor’s Untold Story,” perhaps they could begin to address this problem of apathy and begin to build out their internal organization. Indeed, the UE, whose motto is “The Members Run This Union,” has been at the forefront of some of the most innovative struggles in modern American labor, despite its small size of 35,000 members. (Conservative unions nearly drove the UE out of existence during the post-World War II Red Scare for the unions’ refusal to expel communists.) The UE led the Republic Windows and Doors factory occupation in 2008 and 2009 and has had a steady stream of big union wins in recent years as the power of labor recedes. Indeed, during the pandemic, the UE organized 380 new workers, pitifully making it the eighth-largest organizer of workers of America’s unions, despite the vastly larger size of other unions. Recently, the UE has partnered with the Democratic Socialists of America on an ambitious pandemic organizing project, the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee. The UE has also attracted notoriety for the low salaries of its national officers: Tied to the salaries of production workers at General Electric, they are capped at about $63,000 annually. By contrast, the president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers made $477,000 last year. “Labor’s Untold Story” begins with the Civil War, when many of the people involved in the country’s nascent labor movement enlisted in the Union Army after slaveholders attacked Fort Sumter. Entire trade union locals dissolved, seeing the massive threat that slavery presented to the interests of free labor. In 1857, the Supreme Court had ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford that slavery was effectively legal in every state. Boyer and Morais recall that noted abolitionist Wendell Phillips was deeply pessimistic about what the future held, writing around 1856, “The government has fallen into the hands of the Slave Power completely. So far as national politics are concerned we are beaten — there’s no hope. We shall have Cuba in a year or two, Mexico in five. … The future seems to unfold a vast slave empire united with Brazil. I hope I may be a false prophet but the sky never was so dark.” Exterior of 'Muff' Lawler's barroom and residence, a Molly Maguire base, in the town of Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. From an old woodcut. The Molly Maguires was an Irish 19th-century secret society active in Ireland, Liverpool and parts of the Eastern United States, best known for their activism among Irish-American and Irish immigrant coal miners in Pennsylvania. After a series of often violent conflicts, twenty suspected members of the Molly Maguires were convicted of murder and other crimes and were executed by hanging in 1877 and 1878. Less than a decade later, slavery and the slave power were smashed, and people born enslaved were elected to office throughout the South on ambitious land reform platforms — and the first national labor organization, the National Labor Union, was founded with a leader, William Sylvis, committed to uniting Black and white, male and female, to fight for basic economic rights. While the NLU, despite at some points commanding hundreds of thousands of members, collapsed in 1873 in the face of economic depression, Sylvis and the NLU created the framework that exists today: organizations of workers on the basis of common interest, without regard to their background. One of those early organizations was the Workingmen’s Benevolent Association of Schuylkill County, or the Molly Maguires, a fictitious name developed by anthracite coal barons in Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill Valley to tar the Irish leaders of the incipient miners union. The Benevolent Association was founded in 1868, with a core membership in the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an old Irish fraternity. The next year, on September 6, 1869, “The whistle stop atop the colliery at the Avondale Mine in Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County sent out the sharp, repeated blasts that told of an accident. … Great columns of smoke and fire were billowing out of the only shaft, the only entrance or exit, and the women and children knew that their husbands and fathers were dead men unless they could blast their way to life by forcing a second exit,” which they were unable to do. All 179 were eventually brought out of the mine dead two days later, all because the mine owners decided not to take the safety precaution of having an emergency exit. John Siney, the head of the Benevolent Association, said to the other miners gathered in a crowd: “If you must die with your boots on, die for your families, your home, your country, but do not longer consent to die like rats in a trap for those who have no more interest in you than the pick you dig with.” Thousands of miners joined that day. Of the 22,000 working in the Schuylkill mines, 5,500 were children, working some of the most dangerous jobs. As the union grew, a progressive caucus of young miners affiliated with the AOH began to push for “straight-shooting” trade unionism. Those miners would be the ones who their adversary, the boss Franklin Benjamin Gowen, would tar with the Molly Maguire label and eventually have hanged. As the Panic of 1873 set in, Gowen faced extreme pressure to significantly lower miners’ wages, which led to a six-month strike beginning on January 1, 1875. It failed, but the progressive caucus in the union had not given up and was still fighting back inside the mines. Gowen resolved to crush the union once and for all. Alternating between charging them with communism or terrorism, Gowen waged an all-out public relations campaign against the Molly Maguires and framed them for murder using the Pinkerton Detective Agency, with a spy alleging that the leaders had committed various murders. Gowen ensured that he himself was appointed special prosecutor, and the 10 leaders were hanged on June 21, 1877. But as soon as the miners were hanged, labor roared back with the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. Following another wage cut, over 100,000 struck nationwide. That strike too was crushed. So too was the Knights of Labor, so too was the Industrial Workers of the World — fleeting national worker organizations accompanied by vicious state terror. It was not until the harrowing poverty of the Great Depression that “the triumph that the Molly Maguires had never found … was about to arrive, and it was sweet when it came at last.” Global production had decreased by 42 percent and world trade by 65 percent. The Depression got worse year after year from 1929 to 1933. While President Franklin D. Roosevelt initially got labor union rights passed in 1933, the right-wing Supreme Court struck it down. In response, employers began spending $80 million annually on spies to prevent unionization. The defunct Ku Klux Klan was relaunched, with its primary target union organizers, as well as the Black Legion, a Northern version with a fascist tinge. Nearly 100 years of struggle culminated in the rise of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, which split from the conservative American Federation of Labor in 1936: “The CIO was the leaping flame suddenly blazing bright in the long night of the open shop.” Boyer and Morais write, “By 1934 labor solidarity, ‘an injury to one is an injury to all,’ had soared to a general acceptance by local unions the country over. When one union’s picket lines were attacked by police all unions in a given locality threatened general strike,” which occurred in Minneapolis and in San Francisco that year. Roosevelt, though appalled by general strikes, used them to his advantage. After the passage of the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, a Roosevelt aide said, “The concept may dawn even on the [Supreme] Court, that a government labor board is in some measure a necessary alternative to a general labor war.” The NLRA was upheld, and the following year the CIO was founded, organizing millions of workers in the automotive (prompted by the Flint sit-down strike), steel, electronics, and rubber industries, and nearly every other industry, as well — unions that still exist today. Union density in the private sector is now as low as it has been since 1937. Unions have lost much of the militancy and will that characterized the early days, leading its members to become disconnected from the broader project of economic rights for all. Only by knowing our country’s true history — the history of the people that built it — can stronger unions be built by informed, engaged, and active members.

  10. 5 out of 5

    kei

    3 stars I never knew anything about the post-Civil War factory/mining working life until I read selections of this book. The little I read of it was enough to show me how horrible the conditions were for the blue-collars back then. (They still are now. Factory workers in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and China get little pay. Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan still employ child labourers, who are often abused and given little food. The children are often sold into slavery by their parents, who usual 3 stars I never knew anything about the post-Civil War factory/mining working life until I read selections of this book. The little I read of it was enough to show me how horrible the conditions were for the blue-collars back then. (They still are now. Factory workers in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and China get little pay. Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan still employ child labourers, who are often abused and given little food. The children are often sold into slavery by their parents, who usually cannot support them.) Even the U.S., a democratic country with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, multitudes lived life without adequate pay, food, water, clothing, housing and without basic rights they were entitled to. When the workers held demonstrations and rallies, the state governments and big corporation owners sent the police, thugs, vigilantes, and the military to break them up. Police brutality was always present, and hundreds and thousands of workers usually died or were injured. Union leaders were arrested, put on rigged trials, and often executed for crimes they didn't commit. All this happened in the late 19th century and went on through the first five decades of the 20th century. What's more disappointing was that the Christians, who should have stood up for the least of these, didn't. Many pastors spoke against the unions in the pulpit based on the fact that the unions were led by socialists, who actually bothered to help. The Red Scare was more of a movement to turn the public against the labour unions rather than protect the U.S.'s democratic status. Unfortunately, the book is super-duper dry at parts - especially the parts full of statistics (I can't absorb statistics, they always make me lost). Plus, the authors are unapologetically pro-Communist. Then there's poor, maligned Herbert Hoover, who never gets the credit he deserves. Why does almost everyone hate him so much? Other than those things, you need to read this. Yes you do.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    I'll give this book 2.5 stars. I am very glad to be finished reading it; however, it was not a waste of time. This book was a timeline of the laboring man's struggle for fairness against big business and monopoly from the century between 1860 and the time the book was written in 1955. My territory has been enlarged by learning how benefits we take for granted now, such as the forty hour work week and a minimum wage, were bought and paid for with blood, at times. We need to know these things. Know I'll give this book 2.5 stars. I am very glad to be finished reading it; however, it was not a waste of time. This book was a timeline of the laboring man's struggle for fairness against big business and monopoly from the century between 1860 and the time the book was written in 1955. My territory has been enlarged by learning how benefits we take for granted now, such as the forty hour work week and a minimum wage, were bought and paid for with blood, at times. We need to know these things. Knowing that employees, including children, were once expected to work 12 to 14 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week for abysmal wages, should make us reconsider some of the things we whine about these days. However, as the timeline of the book wore on closer to its authorship date, I really started to hear that axe grinding. A closer inspection of the book revealed that it was published by the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America. This explain why the last third of the book became increasingly shrill and one-sided. And yet, reading a book that was written 60-some years ago is an invaluable history lesson in itself, setting the reader right smack down in the time period when it was written. McCarthyism, anti-atom bomb, Red Scare, cold war - all of these are presented in time machine clarity. There was a lot to be learned in the reading of this book. It was an invaluable, if not an always enjoyable, experience.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Roberts

    Densely packed and a slow read. The authors lean heavily left, and it's hard to read this book as though they are at all objective. However, it does contain a wealth of interesting history from the time of the Civil War through the first half of the 20 century that I've never read before, concerning the struggle of laborers at the time of the robber barons. Finally finished. Very dense and somewhat tedious. As I said, the writers are laughably slanted and as pro-Communist as they could probably Densely packed and a slow read. The authors lean heavily left, and it's hard to read this book as though they are at all objective. However, it does contain a wealth of interesting history from the time of the Civil War through the first half of the 20 century that I've never read before, concerning the struggle of laborers at the time of the robber barons. Finally finished. Very dense and somewhat tedious. As I said, the writers are laughably slanted and as pro-Communist as they could probably get away with for 1955. The profiles of early labor leaders read like hagiography (lives of the saints). That all sadly detracts from some very good research and documentation. That said, this book helped me get inside the head of the progressive movement in a way no other book has done. I will say it seems that if you are a communist, everyone who isn't marching with you must look like a fascist. But I gained some important insights into the reality of the Industrial Revolution and more of the ways both Democrats and Republicans have used government to pervert justice. Despite our modern-day problems, it might not be as bad as the last 150 years.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nadja

    Mostly very good. Dense and hard for me to get through. Completely one-sided, which I was expecting. They have the source material to back their stories up but I have a hard time painting people with such a broad brush. It's sad to read some of the decades old statistics regarding distribution of wealth and see they've not really changed. Mostly very good. Dense and hard for me to get through. Completely one-sided, which I was expecting. They have the source material to back their stories up but I have a hard time painting people with such a broad brush. It's sad to read some of the decades old statistics regarding distribution of wealth and see they've not really changed.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Reading this book has been the first time I have ever heard of the horrible conditions of mass labor in the first half of the twentieth century. As long as you keep in mind that this book was written by a couple of very-biased communists, and watch for little irregularities, it is fascinating.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Imperial Fact: A necessary read for all.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dan Taylor

    Labor always a question of life and death

  17. 4 out of 5

    gabriel morales

    this is a 1000 page book masquerading as a 400 page book. i don't know, the font choice and the line spacing made the book feel like i was taking 20 minutes to read a page. much of the book had me drifting in and out of consciousness despite the work of the authors, who really tried their best. it has some really gripping and powerful stories of the lives of labor heroes and heroines. the parts on the molly maguires, the haymarket affair, the wobblies and the first sit-down strikes are great and this is a 1000 page book masquerading as a 400 page book. i don't know, the font choice and the line spacing made the book feel like i was taking 20 minutes to read a page. much of the book had me drifting in and out of consciousness despite the work of the authors, who really tried their best. it has some really gripping and powerful stories of the lives of labor heroes and heroines. the parts on the molly maguires, the haymarket affair, the wobblies and the first sit-down strikes are great and i will probably go back to them.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Isaiah the Ox

    I read only select parts of this book for school, and I found the writing interesting. Some parts were written like a story, and were interesting. However, the writers would also go into a page or so of just statistics which were very boring. The authors would also mention people again, without even reminding the readers who they are. Although some could say this book is very one-sided and communistic, it is still a side of history that isn't always looked at. I read only select parts of this book for school, and I found the writing interesting. Some parts were written like a story, and were interesting. However, the writers would also go into a page or so of just statistics which were very boring. The authors would also mention people again, without even reminding the readers who they are. Although some could say this book is very one-sided and communistic, it is still a side of history that isn't always looked at.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Caeser Pink

    I read this book as research for a documentary on labor unions. Actually it was given to me by the president of the Transit Worker's Union. I thought it was a good read. It made history interesting. It is biased towards labor, but still fair. Having read quite a few books on the subject, this one was quite concise while still giving a good understanding of the challenges labor faced in order for workers to have collective bargaining rights. I read this book as research for a documentary on labor unions. Actually it was given to me by the president of the Transit Worker's Union. I thought it was a good read. It made history interesting. It is biased towards labor, but still fair. Having read quite a few books on the subject, this one was quite concise while still giving a good understanding of the challenges labor faced in order for workers to have collective bargaining rights.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Algernon

    Published by one of the unions that split off from the CIO, this history of the labor movement from the Civil War into the Cold War is unabashedly partial to the working class. Its prose is impassioned but its historical authenticity is not sloppy, as the authors document their case with extensive footnotes on source material.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    A very good introduction into the many episodes that have either been twisted or ignored by writers of history. While the author's prose is very evocative and brings you into the moment, a little editing could have made the book more comprehensive. A very good introduction into the many episodes that have either been twisted or ignored by writers of history. While the author's prose is very evocative and brings you into the moment, a little editing could have made the book more comprehensive.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nick Kjeldgaard

    A very thought provoking book on how the labor industry evolved and the history of the unions. A lot of information in it, but a great book nonetheless.

  23. 4 out of 5

    TaniaMaria

    The storiesand research was amazing. The writing is good but not great. History that should be taught.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Skye

    Very dry! Good information, though.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    This book was a real eye opener. And its a very educational book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    1.5 Stars. It was okay. The thing is, unfortunately politics and the like bore me to death.......I found it very hard to concentrate and understand what this book was saying.

  27. 4 out of 5

    J

    Who the hell gave this book less than 5 stars?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  30. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Enriquez

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