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State of the Union: A Century of American Labor (Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America)
In a fresh and timely reinterpretation, Nelson Lichtenstein examines how trade unionism has waxed and waned in the nation's political and moral imagination, among both devoted partisans and intransigent foes. From the steel foundry to the burger-grill, from Woodrow Wilson to John Sweeney, from Homestead to Pittston, Lichtenstein weaves together a compelling matrix of ideas ...more
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This book was not what I was expecting it to be but it actually exceeded my expectations nonetheless. What Lichtenstein does with this text is not provide the reader with an exhaustive history of American labor but instead aptly employs a selective history to demonstrate the ideological evolution of the American labor movement. It covers the radical roots of American labor at the turn of the century, its transformation under the New Deal, its ties and contributions to the Civil Rights movement, ...more
In State of the Union, Nelson Lichtenstein provides an interpretive history of American labor from approximately 1930 to 2000. By “interpretive history”, I mean that Lichtenstein’s goal was not to lay out a definitive, comprehensive labor history. Rather, his goal was to use history as a means for proposing fresh ideas about the role of labor movements in American society. This is not to suggest that Lichtenstein shirks history, or plays loose with historical events in order to support an agenda ...more
It's somewhere between 4 and 5 stars tbh, but I went with 5 because the tiebreaker here is that it has an absurd number of great references to studies of particular labor-related issues. I ended up getting about 20 new books culled from these references. I think it does quite a good job of outlining the particular issues that unions in the US have faced over the past 100 years, though admittedly tons of nuances/details are glossed over (hence the references). As other reviewers have mentioned, a ...more
Liechtenstein's history of the postwar labor movement isn't without its flaws -- most notably, silence on racial issues and the "wages of whiteness" as contributors to a splintering of union power and working-class mobilization -- but one point does stand out. As a result of the shift from group organizing to legal maintenance -- collective bargaining, the NLRB, etc. -- the responsibility for social change is given to professionals: lawyers, judges and lobbyists who have no direct stake in the o ...more
Nelson Lichtenstein is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy.More about Nelson Lichtenstein...
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Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America (1 - 10 of 44 books)