There’s a rumbling storm crawling up the spine of American history. Here there be details that politicians, Wall Street bigwigs, and textbook writersThere’s a rumbling storm crawling up the spine of American history. Here there be details that politicians, Wall Street bigwigs, and textbook writers on propaganda commission don’t want you to know about. It’s history seen from the eyes of the middleman, the lower class, and all the fighters for economic reform that have been shunted by the armor of militant suppression. The history of America is coated with the blood of its builders, not by the rhetoric of elitist figureheads that occupy the White House. A great and bloody civil war has been going on for decades, a subtle one. You’d be surprised how often union strikes and civil rights protests ended in violence (provoked by jackhole authorities, not peaceful demonstrators). The whole story of labor in America is here baby; this knowledge is bonafide classified, at least in history classes.
Unions were originally effective in organizing workers’ rights, whether they be about wage, safety, child labor, or hours-per-week issues. The amount of violence that these civilians had to withstand to obtain these rights over the years is staggering. As the unions evolved and gained more influence they were loosely connected with Communism after the Red Scare of 1919. It was mindblowing to read about how J. Edgar Hoover unconstitutionally ordered the deportation of thousands of suspected communists (many of whom were influential union leaders and didn’t even identify with the ideology). During the Great Depression many of the workers’ rights we know and love today came into effect thanks to FDR’s New Deal and other Supreme Court rulings; all the struggles of the past were finally worth something.
One of the more disturbing facts about unions is that, as they grew in strength and merged, their political affiliations became more corrupt. I was shocked to learn that the largest union in the nation’s history, AFL-CIO, backed the Viet Nam war and its members were highly influential as the “silent majority” for keeping the war going. Well, every rose has its thorn.
In addition to outlining the epic history of labor vs. capital, the book’s concluding thesis offers that the future of union organization can only depend on transnational compliance. I’d have to agree, because it doesn’t matter how many rights are won. Corporations always sell out to the cheapest bidder, and the world will always have a new one unless the power to strike is not universal....more
Heavy stuff Gordon. You must be a professor or something. But really, to get a sense of the ideological evolution of American politics before the ConsHeavy stuff Gordon. You must be a professor or something. But really, to get a sense of the ideological evolution of American politics before the Constitution was written, this might not be the best place to start. It's written for elitist post-graduates; you know, the kind of book that purposefully tries to confuse undergraduate perfectionists and drive them crazy, so they'll follow up the readings with an agonizing amount of research, score poorer on papers, and be more miserable in general. It doesn't explain things the way a formal textbook would, and it assumes you already have a strong foundation on post-Revolutionary knowledge. However, if you're experienced in history or difficult literature, this might be one of the amazing books you'll ever read. Wood has a superior prose, the best of any historian I've read. Even if his topics tend to go on and on, all 500 some-odd pages flow with the elegant consistency of a gifted writer....more
It's strange how Americans castigate France and rave about us bailing the French out of both world wars, yet no one ever talks about how the French baIt's strange how Americans castigate France and rave about us bailing the French out of both world wars, yet no one ever talks about how the French bailed us out of the Revolutionary War. The book was concise and well organized, but too dry and rigid: The American Revolution was far too romantic to be written about in textbook format....more
How does a madman become president of the United States? A man that didn’t even want to be president? It might suffice to say that fin-de-seile AmericHow does a madman become president of the United States? A man that didn’t even want to be president? It might suffice to say that fin-de-seile America was mad itself, burgeoning after the Reconstruction and the manic frenzy of invention. America was young, beautiful, talented and ambitious; a teenager that knew where it was going and didn’t show any signs of restraint. Theodore Roosevelt’s eccentric zeal brought out the embodiment of these traits, and with a little luck, that magic wand of destiny, he was raised on a pedestal to light the torch of a century that witnessed the blazon of America’s influence as a great world power for years to come.
Morris’ style is precious and fluent- a contrast to the bombastic personality of Teddy. But it works nonetheless, and is well-deserving of a Pulitzer. It must be said that this volume covers only his rise to presidency. It’s the first of a three volume series, and since it’s almost 800 pages long, you get the sense of how prolific his life was: there isn’t any one profession or activity he sought to cement himself in.
My opinion on Roosevelt during this period is mixed. His charming, energetic, comical persona came off the pages in waves, and you can see how almost everyone he met seemed to like him. He was intelligent, diverse in both mental and physical explorations, with an insanely courageous drive to exalt himself despite the odds. But while he was one of the few politicians of his time to fight corporate corruption (which had infiltrated politics after the Santa Clara County vs Pacific Railroad ruling), he ultimately helped the bigger ones by opening doorways to globalization. He was even a warmonger who played a huge part in the first American expansionist wars: those being the invasions of Cuba & The Philippines. But during his presidency, the U.S. was not involved in any wars, so one might infer that his adventure in Cuba was horrific enough for him to change his mind about warmongering. Another irony was that he claimed to be an environmentalist and established the first Wildlife Refuge in the U.S., yet he hunted animals voraciously and agreed to commence deforestation on American soil. Then, early in his political career he was indifferent to the laboring class, but I know that during his presidency he supported the labor strikes of the early 1900s... Then, to be so anti-Jeffersonian, yet stand for many of the same ideas: huh?... I don’t know whether or not he was aware of these ironies, or if he changed later on in life- I’ll have to read volume 2 to find out. These complicated opinions of his are just a few of the many shades of his ambiguous character, making this both an exciting read and a depressing one. If only I could sit down with Teddy and have a soda to clear some things up. The first I'd probably ask him is how it feels to be sculpted next to Thomas Jefferson on Mt. Rushmore....more
This is an enlightening book about the American mass-media propaganda of the 1960s through 1980s. Even though it's old it still applies to contemporarThis is an enlightening book about the American mass-media propaganda of the 1960s through 1980s. Even though it's old it still applies to contemporary issues, as Iraq has often been compared to Vietnam (although Vietnam had a much higher magnitude of significance). What's most similar is how the government used the media to make a strong case for occupying these territories and proceeding to terrorize their populations for the dogmas of "freedom, justice, equality, etc", when all-the-while they were really just masquerading as puppets for corporations, who ordered the delivery boys to fetch the goods- namely resources, cheap labor, and more populations for globalizationalist consumerism.
The books starts with the U.S. funding of terrorist regimes, such as the ones in Central America during the 1980s. It outlines how the media ignored the terror imposed by governments that were beneficial to U.S. investors (Guatemala, El Salvador), yet were critical of Nicaragua, a country that just wanted to govern without U.S.-corporate interests. Then it briefly dances around eastern Europe before devoting a very large portion to the outright massacre of southeast Asia. Vietmam is covered first; then the heartbreaking destruction of Cambodia, an innocent country that had nothing to do with anything before the United States deliberately destroyed every single village with the excuse that refugees from Nam were hiding there. As I read this I was reminded of a scene in Apocalypse Now where these Cambodian children were huddled around a traitorous American ex-captain who was hiding there to escape the horror of Vienam (ultimately ending up in an even more horrifying place). The children seemed to be happy as they looked in on another dubious American captain that had been caught trying to assassinate this man. To him the traitorous captain read various excerpts from Time magazine that were being published about the war, and needless to say, the excerpts about our rightful place in the area was stupendously bogus....more