Review: Brecher’s Strike!

Ed Note: This review was orginally written for a now long defunct livejournal account. I’m reposting it here as part of a project to collect all my various writings in one place.

Strike!
Jeremy Brecher
Strike! is one of those texts that is much better as a research aid than it is as something to actually sit down and read. It is, in my understanding, the most exhaustive history of labor unrest in the U.S. available as a popular publication detailing wildcat strikes both small and large. The breadth of the work, and the sheer number of actions covered gives you a real sense of how pervasive autonomous militant labor activity was in the U.S. especially in the tumultuous 1920s and 30s.

Though exhaustive in scope, the book is just not that well written and I found part of it a real slog. At times it reads like a laundry list. In Flint, a sit down strike; in Akron, a lock out; in Seattle, a general strike, etc etc etc. Before reading this I wouldn’t think you could turn out a history of labor in America that is so lacking in life. Those were exciting times, but reading Strike! I sometimes had difficulty staying awake.

If you’re interested in the American labor movement, you’re going to want this one on your shelf, though perhaps not to read cover to cover.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

*Note I read Strike in a now out of print edition (I think the same edition from which this pdf was made). It is now available in a new edition from AK Press, which, for all I know, might be better.

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About seanv2

Scholar, gentleman, jock. I run the website Milo and the Calf. There you will find the Boston Qualifier Questionnaire where runners share their stories of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. You'll also find my thoughts on endurance sports, ancient history, Judaism, and hundreds of book reviews.
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