Labor History Reading List


Jeremy Brecher, South End
Since its original publication in 1972, no book has done as much as Jeremy Brecher’s Strike! to bring American labor history to a wide audience. Strike! narrates the dramatic story of repeated, massive, and often violent revolts by ordinary working people in America. Strike! tells this exciting hidden history from the point of view of the rank-and-file workers who lived it.

Why Unions Matter

Michael Yates, Monthly Review
“A comprehensive, readable introduction to the history, structure, functioning, and yes, the problems of U.S. unions. For labor and political activists just coming on the scene or veterans looking for that missing overview, this is the place to start.” —KIM MOODY 

Three Strikes

The Fighting Spirit of Labor’s Last Century
Howard Zinn, Dana Frank, and Robin D. G. Kelley
Miners, musicians, and “counter girls” in a people’s history of work in the early twentieth century When the National Guard arrived in Ludlow, Colorado, in the fall of 1913, striking coal miners cheered. Five months later the Guard opened fire on them and their families. So begins Three Strikes, a collaboration by acclaimed American historians. 

Making of the English Working Class


E.P. Thompson, Random House (1996)
Classic account by a romantic left historian

Workers Control in America

David Montgomry, Cambridge Univ. Press
…classic historical essays from a shop-floor and syndicalist sort of approach by a leading American historian and former CP trade unionist.

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