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Publisher's Summary

“A page-turning book that spans a century of worker strikes.... Engrossing, character-driven, panoramic.” (Zephyr Teachout, The New York Times Book Review)

We live in an era of soaring corporate profits and anemic wage gains, one in which low-paid jobs and blighted blue-collar communities have become a common feature of our nation’s landscape. Behind these trends lies a little-discussed problem: the decades-long decline in worker power.             

Award-winning journalist and author Steven Greenhouse guides us through the key episodes and trends in history that are essential to understanding some of our nation’s most pressing problems, including increased income inequality, declining social mobility, and the concentration of political power in the hands of the wealthy few. He exposes the modern labor landscape with the stories of dozens of American workers, from GM employees to Uber drivers to underpaid schoolteachers. Their fight to take power back is crucial for America’s future, and Greenhouse proposes concrete, feasible ways in which workers’ collective power can be - and is being - rekindled and reimagined in the 21st century.            

Beaten Down, Worked Up is a stirring and essential look at labor in America, poised as it is between the tumultuous struggles of the past and the vital, hopeful struggles ahead.   

A PBS NewsHour Now Read This Book Club Pick 

©2019 Steven Greenhouse (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“In this riveting account of the rise and fall of organized labor, Steven Greenhouse tells the stories of courageous men and women who put their jobs and often their lives on the line to help American workers gain the income and the dignity they deserve. After World War II, when more than a third of American workers in the private sector belonged to labor unions, workers had enough power to demand that wages keep up with productivity gains. The consequence was the greatest middle class in the history of the world. But over the past forty years, as union membership has declined, America’s middle class has waned. Greenhouse outlines how a worker’s movement could be rekindled, and why it must be. Deeply inspiring and profoundly important.” (Robert B. Reich, former Secretary of Labor and author of The Common Good)

“A timely and important book that explores how labor unions and worker power have made the US a fairer, more democratic country. In these times of renewed labor insurgency, Steven Greenhouse’s riveting reporting and storytelling reminds a new generation why workers’ and unions’ concerns must be restored to the center of our politics and workplaces.” (Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher, The Nation)

"Greenhouse...has provided a human dimension to the tale of income inequality, wage stagnation, and employer disrespect for workers.... Informative.” (Mark Levine, Booklist)

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Must read

This book is fantastic. A must read for any leftist or anyone that supports unions and labor movements. I have not finished it yet but so far its up there with Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent as far as important political works. Well done Steven Greenhouse.

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Primer for Unionism and Worker Struggles

Greenhouse, the former labor reporter for the New York Times, weaves in personal stories to tell a brief history of unions and the struggle for worker rights in America. His book is a recommended read for anyone looking to have a greater understanding of the current state of unions and ideas on how they can rebuild power for worker and civil rights.

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brilliant, inspiring and informative.

fills me with hope for a future in wich we the people can control our destinies

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this it a must have in every library

I would have liked it more if the author really digged into the real heroes the real spearheads of the labor movements like the iww etc but overall it's a good book to have. in a lot of places in America labor movement and unions are stigmatized but it's only because people are not aware of labor unions and the fight for more fair and Democratic workplace is as American as apple pie. that is for a reason the more people know the more they fight back the system that exploits them even when they sleep. Walter Reuthers and Mother Jones of America have impacted millions of lives and they should be red and celebrated by millions. just like there are good cops and bad cops good plumber and bad plumber there are good union leaders and bad union leaders people should look at labor movement and unions as an ideal. just like we cannot dislike old police because of the bad police we cannot look at the labor movement with the lens of mainstream media where it makes the news if there is only a union leader misusing is power. just like in the song, my father was a miner and I am a miner's son, I'll stick with the Union till every battle's won!