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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

    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 4 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. 5 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. 5 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. 5 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Merritt

    Well, I only read selections for school, but they seriously killed me. This book was written in the 1950s by two guys who obviously still liked the idea of communism. Even after WWII. The subject matter and information this book gives is really fascinating. It's kind of the dark side of the Labor Movement-- what your textbooks don't tell you. However, I had a hard time respecting what was written when it was so biased, and so many assumptions and generalizations were made. Plus, all of the Presi Well, I only read selections for school, but they seriously killed me. This book was written in the 1950s by two guys who obviously still liked the idea of communism. Even after WWII. The subject matter and information this book gives is really fascinating. It's kind of the dark side of the Labor Movement-- what your textbooks don't tell you. However, I had a hard time respecting what was written when it was so biased, and so many assumptions and generalizations were made. Plus, all of the Presidents mentioned in this book were ignorant and evil, along with anyone who was an average working family. No, the people who were poor were ALWAYS in the right. Plus, the writing is... well... slow... I found they (the authors) used way too many abbreviations and referred to way too many people in a casual manner, without ever bothering to remind you who they were. Plus, whole chapters were filled with statistics that were not at all layed out in a nice way. So... I really don't recommend this unless you're trying to get so information, and even then you have to remember it was written by communists...

  11. 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.

  12. 4 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.

  13. 5 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.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Imperial Fact: A necessary read for all.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan Taylor

    Labor always a question of life and death

  16. 5 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.

  17. 4 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.

  18. 5 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 4 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    TaniaMaria

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

  23. 4 out of 5

    Skye

    Very dry! Good information, though.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

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

  25. 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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    J

    Who the hell gave this book less than 5 stars?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Enriquez

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul Scully

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