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For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  68 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Seeking to reclaim a history that has remained largely ignored by historians, this dramatic and stirring account examines each of the American cooperative movements for social change—farmer, union, consumer, and communalist—that have been all but erased from collective memory. With an expansive sweep and breathtaking detail, this scholarly yet eminently readable chronicle ...more
Paperback, 506 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by PM Press (first published 2009)
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Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
For All the People is more of an encyclopedia than a good read. But the amount of information on collectives and communes that figured directly in U.S. history is quite staggering. There was quite a bit I did not know and I read a lot of books on U.S. history.

I found the second third of the book, which roughly covers the 20th century collectives and unions to be better researched than the rest of the book.

There is a little too much of the author’s experiences inserted in the latter portion of th
PM Press
Oct 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The survival of indigenous communities and the first European settlers alike depended on a deeply cooperative style of living and working, based around common lands, shared food and labor. Cooperative movements proved integral to the grassroots organizations and struggles challenging the domination of unbridled capitalism in America’s formative years. Holding aloft the vision for an alternative economic system based on cooperative industry, they have played a vital, and dynamic role in the strug ...more
Between Howard Zinn and John Curl, we might finally have a couple of historians who can teach us our history, so that we are not doomed to repeat it. Curl's book focuses on the history of cooperative work and communal living, and the aggressive tactics of capitalist, corporate and governmental entities to cut democracy off at the knees. Time and time again, the coop loses. That's the depressing part. And, time and time again, the workers rise. That's the part that gives me hope.

Unlike previous
Worker Co-op & Economic Democracy Reading List
This book documents the importance of cooperatives, particularly worker cooperatives, throughout our country's history and their particular relevance today.

"It is indeed inspiring, in the face of all the misguided praise of 'the market', to be reminded by John Curl's book of the noble history of cooperative work in the United States." Howard Zinn, author of A Peoples History of the United States
Christina Zawadiwsky
I received this book as a "win" from Goodreads, and entered to win it because its title piqued my curiosity. I did not expect it to be SO packed with historical data that it was hard to find the human interest in the book, however! A bit heavy-going and heavily foot-noted, I would recommend it primarily to historians! For All the People Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America by John Curl For All the People Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America by John Curl ...more
Robert Stayton
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A very revealing history of cooperatives in America. In our history there have been wave after wave of cooperatives started by people who are sick of corporate control and wanting something better for themselves by helping themselves through working with others. Often coops were started by unions on strike to help their members. Even today millions of Americans are part of coops through agriculture coops and credit unions, which are coop banks. The author tries to be complete, but sometimes that ...more
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
An interesting idea--the history of the cooperative and communalist movements in the US. certainly a history worth telling. Mr. Curl, however, writes like a researcher and not a writer. The first half of the book is a chronological history of these movements and coops but he is never quite able to weave together a compelling narrative. It reads like snapshots in history. Bland and almost unreadable. When he writes from his own experiences though, his writing shines and I could really feel and gr ...more
Feb 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, reviewed
Picked this up because it was Howard Zinn-endorsed. Not as readable as the back cover would have you believe (and certainly not as readable as Zinn)'s a bit heavy-handed with the dates and names, but the relatable human interest points are what keep it compelling. I particularly enjoyed the beginning and the speculation on what might have been if we'd not gone the "indentured servitude" route in designing the labor force. Probably good for a classroom . . . and classroom discussion. ...more
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Finished about 2/3 of it.. there's some interesting analysis in there, but there's also a lot of really tedious recitation of every co-op that ever existed for 2 months and then failed. I get that it kind of serves as a historical record, "these people were here, let's not forget them," but it did not make for very interesting reading. ...more
Mar 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Good book on a subject I care about. I'm hoping that books like this will help spread the word about the benefits of cooperative movements.
I won this book from First Reads and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the author had signed it for me. Thanks!
Mark E. Smith
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Included in this book are some excellent examples of how the laws people fight so hard to get enacted, are often used against the people they were supposed to help.
Eric Dirnbach
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic history of cooperatives in the U.S., really interesting.
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John Curl is the author of two novels, a memoir, history, poetry, and translations of ancient Maya, Aztec, and Quechua poets. He grew up in New York City, his family a mix of Irish Catholic, English Protestant, and Romanian Jew. On Thanksgiving they all got together and actually had a good time. He has a degree in literature from New York City College, is a member of PEN Oakland and the San Franci ...more

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“It has been often said that the winners write history. Cooperatives have been widespread and important in many periods of American history, and more people are members of cooperatives today than ever before. Yet it might almost seem as if they don’t exist and never existed in the US, because cooperatives are almost universally absent from history classes and almost never appear in the American media. An unbalanced emphasis has been placed on the self-reliant, individualistic frontiersman as typical of the Westward movement of American history, while this has only been one element in a much more complex situation.” 0 likes
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