A History of America in Ten Strikes

Narrated by: Brian Troxell
Length: 9 hrs and 17 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.6 out of 5 stars (68 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A thrilling and timely account of ten moments in history when labor challenged the very nature of power in America, by the author called “a brilliant historian” by The Progressive magazine 

Powerful and accessible, A History of America in Ten Strikes challenges all of our contemporary assumptions around labor, unions, and American workers. In this brilliant book, labor historian Erik Loomis recounts ten critical workers’ strikes in American labor history that everyone needs to know about (and then provides an annotated list of the 150 most important moments in American labor history in the appendix). From the Lowell Mill Girls strike in the 1830s to Justice for Janitors in 1990, these labor uprisings do not just reflect the times in which they occurred, but speak directly to the present moment.

For example, we often think that Lincoln ended slavery by proclaiming the slaves emancipated, but Loomis shows that they freed themselves during the Civil War by simply withdrawing their labor. He shows how the hopes and aspirations of a generation were made into demands at a GM plant in Lordstown in 1972. And he takes us to the forests of the Pacific Northwest in the early nineteenth century where the radical organizers known as the Wobblies made their biggest inroads against the power of bosses. But there were also moments when the movement was crushed by corporations and the government; Loomis helps us understand the present perilous condition of American workers and draws lessons from both the victories and defeats of the past.

In crystalline narratives, labor historian Erik Loomis lifts the curtain on workers’ struggles, giving us a fresh perspective on American history from the boots up.

Strikes include:

Lowell Mill Girls Strike (Massachusetts, 1830-40)

Slaves on Strike (The Confederacy, 1861-65)

The Eight-Hour Day Strikes (Chicago, 1886)

The Anthracite Strike (Pennsylvania, 1902)

The Bread and Roses Strike (Massachusetts, 1912)

The Flint Sit-Down Strike (Michigan, 1937)

The Oakland General Strike (California, 1946)

Lordstown (Ohio, 1972)

Air Traffic Controllers (1981)

Justice for Janitors (Los Angeles, 1990)

©2018 Erik Loomis (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc. Published by arrangement with The New Press (www.thenewpress.com).

What listeners say about A History of America in Ten Strikes

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great read

as someone just getting interested in the labor movement I found this a useful introduction. I recently listened to the Richard White history of the Reconstruction and Gilded Age, which was VERY good and I think a worthy companion to this book.

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Every school should have this book read!

I knew unions were important to pressure non-union corporations to pay better wages than the unions, but I did not fully understand to what extent America would be totally impoverished if it hadn't been for the fighting Union workers against the lustful greed of big business.

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A must listen

Very important lessons are contained within, anyone who works for a living needs to hear this.

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This was not 10 strikes

Instead, it rambled all over the place, talking about 100 or more strikes. It failed to provide relevant details— like the name of the union that won the Ravenswood conflict— the USW. And it mischaracterized situations such as the decline of steel at the turn of the century.

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Excellent recap of US labor history!

Wow! this book is simply awesome. Loomis masterfully recounts the incredible, painful, spectacular history that is the labor movement in the US and, most powerfully, points us to the exact moments where labor has failed tremendously to live up to its own lofty goals. I am myself something of a militant unionist, active in my union, and having worked as a union staffer for five years, as well as being active in community organizing. I can tell you, having been involved in multiple "big labor" union locals - this book would serve EVERY union staff, elected, AND member well. In fact, I plan on buying several copies for my office and my closest union allies, maybe even for a shop steward or two. If we don't know our history, (and sadly, I'd say the majority of union staff and members don't) we will stumble again and again on the same obstacles which our forefathers may have already conquered. This work gives us a clear picture of the real state of the labor movement. If you care about a better future for all workers and really about saving the earth from its inevitable demise if we don't seriously change course, or even just taking power and making change, I think this book is indispensable. HIGHLY recommend!

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Great History, Great Listen

I've been trying to educate myself as much as possible in my newfound covid downtime, and this has been a Great addition. Doesn't sugarcoat or cherry pick to fit a certain narrative, and doesn't try to pretend like unions were perfect saviors of working people. I loved his mention of the different tendencies that went into organizing, and the world historical context of these ideas. Very good get, would recommend.