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The Fall of the House of Labor: The Workplace, the State, and American Labor Activism, 1865-1925

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  12 reviews
The results of American industrial worker mobilization after the abolition of slavery are traced into the early 20th century in this study of new management styles and expanded union movement.
Paperback, 508 pages
Published October 14th 2005 by Cambridge University Press (first published January 1st 1987)
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J.M. Hushour
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a nice, detailed history of the American labor movement that serves as a foundation for any discussion of both why it failed and why it is viewed with such horror and disdain today.
True, the period from the end of slavery to labor's WWI-ish heyday illustrates how diverse the movement was, but that was its undoing. Ethnic and regional variation played against the movement, as did roles within it (laborers, craftsmen, operatives, etc). The one thing to be taken away was that for all its se
...more
C. Scott
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I am soooo glad I finally finished this book. POWERFUL BORING. Even as someone who is intensely interested in the labor struggle it was a huge struggle to power through to the end.

It's not that it's poor writing. David Montgomery is an academic and this is an academic's book. The problem is that Montgomery goes so small bore that I became completely overwhelmed in all the details. By describing in soporific exactitude how a craft union in New Jersey went on strike in 1878 or a puddler's union fr
...more
D
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great overview of the history of labor and unions in the USA.

It remains not only possible but imperative to analyze the American experience of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in terms of conflicting social classes. The human relationships structured by commodity production in large collective enterprises devoted to private gain generated bondings and antagonisms that were, in one form or another, the daily experience of everyone involved.

Smith College graduate Alice Kimball of her sojourn
...more
Michael
Excerpted as "The Struggle for Control of Production" in Gary Kornblith, ed., The Industrial Revolution in America (1998)

Montgomery is interested in the struggle between workers and owners for control of the process of production in capitalist enterprise. He looks to the 1892 Homestead conflict, which ranged workers of the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers against Carnegie Steel, to better understand this struggle and its outcome.

In January 1889, a successful strike had forced C
...more
David Bates
Mar 11, 2013 rated it liked it
David Montgomery’s The Fall of the House of Labor, published in 1987, takes a wide angle approach to labor history, examining the economic relationships of the working class as a whole rather than tracing a particular labor organization. Montgomery’s focus is on the working class as a class, united in their common experience of “[t]he human relationships structured by commodity production in large collective enterprises devoted to private gain” which “generated bondings and antagonisms that were ...more
Mscout
Jan 18, 2012 rated it liked it
David Montgomery had a unique perspective from which to write The Fall of the House of Labor. Having spent several years in the workforce and involved in labor politics during the 1950s, he saw the culture and the challenges of labor movements first hand. Montgomery continued his activism for worker’s rights even after he established himself as a respected academic. Montgomery’s time in the Communist Party also contributed to his view on Labor issues. In creating the school known as “New Labor H ...more
Dan
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This sweeping and brilliant book is a hidden history of the transformation of the United States from the civil war to World War I, as told through the experience and struggles of working people.

Montgomery shows how skilled workers, immigrants, Black workers, women, conservatives, socialists, factory operatives and laborers reacted to the huge changes in industry -- and also how their struggles, ideas, and organizations shaped those changes.

Montgomery has an eye for the telling detail -- in his
...more
Mark Bowles
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
David Montgomery, The Fall of the House of Labor (1986)
1. Discusses the American workers world from 1880-1920
2. Main theme is the variety of American working class experience (skilled male worker, immigrant, Afro-American, female worker in the garment trades)
3. Discusses the revolution of "scientific management" in the metal working trades and the effectiveness of open shops pacifies the worker and the house of labor falls
Corey
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
thorough, sometimes too thorough for a summer's day, but often the detail really allowed you to be in the moment to understand what a working man or woman did to earn a living in 1890, to appreciate the importance of craftsmanship, and above all the rise of corporate management over craftsmanship and the role of government.
Mirza  Sultan-Galiev
A great book.
Sean Chick
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
A long winded book, I like the ideas but not the style.
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