Tied to the Great Packing Machine by Wilson J. Warren Summary
Ambitious in its historical scope and its broad range of topics, Tied to the Great Packing Machine tells the dramatic story of meatpacking’s enormous effects on the economics, culture, and environment of the Midwest over the past century and a half. Wilson Warren situates the history of the industry in both its urban and its rural settings—moving from the huge stockyards of Chicago and Kansas City to today’s smaller meatpacking communities—and thus presents a complete portrayal of meatpacking’s place within the larger agro-industrial landscape. Writing from the vantage point of twenty-five years of extensive research, Warren analyzes the evolution of the packing industry from its early period, dominated by the big terminal markets, through the development of new marketing and technical innovations that transformed the ways animals were gathered, slaughtered, and processed and the final products were distributed. In addition, he concentrates on such cultural impacts as ethnic and racial variations, labor unions, gender issues, and changes in Americans’ attitudes toward the ethics of animal slaughter and patterns of meat consumption and such environmental problems as site-point pollution and microbe contamination, ending with a stimulating discussion of the future of American meatpacking. Providing an excellent and well-referenced analysis within a regional and temporal framework that ensures a fresh perspective, Tied to the Great Packing Machine is a dynamic narrative that contributes to a fuller understanding of the historical context and contemporary concerns of an extremely important industry.
City of American Dreams by Margaret Garb Summary
In this vivid portrait of life in Chicago in the fifty years after the Civil War, Margaret Garb traces the history of the American celebration of home ownership. As the nation moved from an agrarian to an industrialized urban society, the competing visions of capitalists, reformers, and immigrants turned the urban landscape into a testing ground for American values. Neither a natural progression nor an inevitable outcome, the ideal of home ownership emerged from the struggles of industrializing cities. Garb skillfully narrates these struggles, showing how the American infatuation with home ownership left the nation's cities sharply divided along class and racial lines. Based on research of real estate markets, housing and health reform, and ordinary homeowners—African American and white, affluent and working class—City of American Dreams provides a richly detailed picture of life in one of America's great urban centers. Garb shows that the pursuit of a single-family house set on a tidy yard, commonly seen as the very essence of the American dream, resulted from clashes of interests and decades of struggle.
In Search of the Working Class by Leon Fink Summary
These nine essays by a prominent scholar in American labor history self-consciously evoke the tensions between the worker as historical subject and the historian as outside observer. Encompassing studies of labor culture, strategy, and movement building from the late nineteenth century to the present, In Search of the Working Class also connects the trials of the early labor economists to the conceptual challenges facing today's academic practitioners. "Fink places American labor history in the broader context of American political historiography better than any other historian I can think of." -- James R. Barrett, author of Work and Community in the Jungle: Chicago's Packinghouse Workers, 1894-1922
Faith and the Historian by Nick Salvatore Summary
Faith and the Historian collects essays from eight experienced historians discussing the impact of being "touched" by Catholicism on their vision of history. That first graduate seminar, these essays suggest, did not mark the inception of one's historical sensibilities; rather, that process had deeper, and earlier, roots. The authors--ranging from "cradle to the grave" Catholics to those who haven’t practiced for forty years, and everywhere in between--explicitly investigate the interplay between their personal lives and beliefs and the sources of their professional work. A variety of heartfelt, illuminating, and sometimes humorous experiences emerge from these stories of intelligent people coming to terms with their Catholic backgrounds as they mature and enter the academy. Contributors include: Philip Gleason, David Emmons, Maureen Fitzgerald, Joseph A. McCartin, Mario T. Garcia, Nick Salvatore, James R. Barrett, and Anne M. Butler.
L.A. Story by Ruth Milkman Summary
Sharp decreases in union membership over the last fifty years have caused many to dismiss organized labor as irrelevant in today’s labor market. In the private sector, only 8 percent of workers today are union members, down from 24 percent as recently as 1973. Yet developments in Southern California—including the successful Justice for Janitors campaign—suggest that reports of organized labor’s demise may have been exaggerated. In L.A. Story, sociologist and labor expert Ruth Milkman explains how Los Angeles, once known as a company town hostile to labor, became a hotbed for unionism, and how immigrant service workers emerged as the unlikely leaders in the battle for workers’ rights. L.A. Story shatters many of the myths of modern labor with a close look at workers in four industries in Los Angeles: building maintenance, trucking, construction, and garment production. Though many blame deunionization and deteriorating working conditions on immigrants, Milkman shows that this conventional wisdom is wrong. Her analysis reveals that worsening work environments preceded the influx of foreign-born workers, who filled the positions only after native-born workers fled these suddenly undesirable jobs. Ironically, L.A. Story shows that immigrant workers, who many union leaders feared were incapable of being organized because of language constraints and fear of deportation, instead proved highly responsive to organizing efforts. As Milkman demonstrates, these mostly Latino workers came to their service jobs in the United States with a more group-oriented mentality than the American workers they replaced. Some also drew on experience in their native countries with labor and political struggles. This stock of fresh minds and new ideas, along with a physical distance from the east-coast centers of labor’s old guard, made Los Angeles the center of a burgeoning workers’ rights movement. Los Angeles’ recent labor history highlights some of the key ingredients of the labor movement’s resurgence—new leadership, latitude to experiment with organizing techniques, and a willingness to embrace both top-down and bottom-up strategies. L.A. Story’s clear and thorough assessment of these developments points to an alternative, high-road national economic agenda that could provide workers with a way out of poverty and into the middle class.
The Vegetarian Crusade by Adam D. Shprintzen Summary
Vegetarianism has been practiced in the United States since the country's founding, yet the early years of the movement have been woefully misunderstood and understudied. Through the Civil War, the vegetarian movement focused on social and political reform, but by the late nineteenth century, the movement became a path for personal strength and success in a newly individualistic, consumption-driven economy. This development led to greater expansion and acceptance of vegetarianism in mainstream society. So argues Adam D. Shprintzen in his lively history of early American vegetarianism and social reform. From Bible Christians to Grahamites, the American Vegetarian Society to the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Shprintzen explores the diverse proponents of reform-motivated vegetarianism and explains how each of these groups used diet as a response to changing social and political conditions. By examining the advocates of vegetarianism, including institutions, organizations, activists, and publications, Shprintzen explores how an idea grew into a nationwide community united not only by diet but also by broader goals of social reform.
Labor's Text by Laura Hapke Summary
Labor's Text charts how the worker has been portrayed and often misrepresented in American fiction. Laura Hapke offers hundreds of depictions of wage earners: from fiction on the early artisan "aristocrats" to the Gilded Age's union-busting novelists to the year 2000's marginalized, apolitical men and women. Whether the authors discussed are pro- or anti-labor, Hapke illuminates the literary, historical, and intellectual contexts in which their fiction was produced and read.
The Racketeer's Progress by Andrew Wender Cohen Summary
The Racketeer's Progress explores the contested and contingent origins of the modern American economy by examining the violent resistance to its development. It explains how carpenters, teamsters, barbers, musicians and others organised to thwart ambitious national corporations. Unions and associations governed commerce through pickets, assaults and bombings. Scholars often ignore this defiance, painting modernisation as a consensual process and presenting craftsmen as reactionary, corrupt and criminal. This is ironic, for the tradesmen's reputation derives from their successful struggle to control modernisation and the emerging consumer economy. Their resistance redirected American law. Progressive-era courts rebuked the craftsmen for attempting to govern trade. In the 1920s, the tradesmen inspired new criminal concepts, such as 'racketeering'. But the Great Depression reversed harsh laws. The craftsmen became a model for New Deal recovery statutes and a focus for constitutional debates. Meanwhile, the state began protecting unions against gangsters like Al Capone.
Max Weber in America by Lawrence A. Scaff Summary
Max Weber, widely considered a founder of sociology and the modern social sciences, visited the United States in 1904 with his wife Marianne. The trip was a turning point in Weber's life and it played a pivotal role in shaping his ideas, yet until now virtually our only source of information about the trip was Marianne Weber's faithful but not always reliable 1926 biography of her husband.Max Weber in America carefully reconstructs this important episode in Weber's career, and shows how the subsequent critical reception of Weber's work was as American a story as the trip itself. Lawrence Scaff provides new details about Weber's visit to the United States--what he did, what he saw, whom he met and why, and how these experiences profoundly influenced Weber's thought on immigration, capitalism, science and culture, Romanticism, race, diversity, Protestantism, and modernity. Scaff traces Weber's impact on the development of the social sciences in the United States following his death in 1920, examining how Weber's ideas were interpreted, translated, and disseminated by American scholars such as Talcott Parsons and Frank Knight, and how the Weberian canon, codified in America, was reintroduced into Europe after World War II. A landmark work by a leading Weber scholar, Max Weber in America will fundamentally transform our understanding of this influential thinker and his place in the history of sociology and the social sciences.
The Chicago Pragmatists and American Progressivism by Andrew Feffer Summary
Founded in 1894 at a peak of social and industrial turmoil, the Chicago school of pragmatist philosophy is emblematic of the progressive spirit of early twentieth-century America. The Chicago pragmatists under the leadership of John Dewey pursued a close critique of the modern workplace, school, and neighborhood which provided a theoretical base for the progressive reform agenda. Andrew Feffer here provides a richly textured group portrait of Dewey and his colleagues George Herbert Mead and James Hayden Tufts against the backdrop of Chicago's social history. In this nuanced intellectual biography of the Chicago pragmatists, Feffer retraces the story of their personal involvement in reform movements and examines how they revised contemporary political rhetoric and social theory in order to reestablish the foundations of democracy in productive and rewarding work. Drawing on liberal Christian reformist as well as philosophical idealist traditions, the pragmatists advanced a radically humanistic social theory that attacked the regimentation of factory life and demanded the democratization of industry and education. At the center of this progressive philosophy was the elimination of social divisions including the fundamental rift between intellectual and manual labor. Feffer also gives an account of certain elitist and anti-democratic assumptions of pragmatist theory; he shows, in particular, how progressive reformers inherited the pragmatists' mistrust of the political impulses of the industrial workers they championed. Linking a major current in American thought to the history of industrial relations, The Chicago Pragmatists and American Progressivism contributes to current debates in intellectual history, labor history, political theory, and American studies.
Commonsense Anticommunism by Jennifer Luff Summary
Between the Great War and Pearl Harbor, conservative labor leaders declared themselves America's "first line of defense" against Communism. In this surprising account, Jennifer Luff shows how the American Federation of Labor fanned popular anticommunism but defended Communists' civil liberties in the aftermath of the 1919 Red Scare. The AFL's "commonsense anticommunism," she argues, steered a middle course between the American Legion and the ACLU, helping to check campaigns for federal sedition laws. But in the 1930s, frustration with the New Deal order led labor conservatives to redbait the Roosevelt administration and liberal unionists and abandon their reluctant civil libertarianism for red scare politics. That frustration contributed to the legal architecture of federal anticommunism that culminated with the McCarthyist fervor of the 1950s. Relying on untapped archival sources, Luff reveals how labor conservatives and the emerging civil liberties movement debated the proper role of the state in policing radicals and grappled with the challenges to the existing political order posed by Communist organizers. Surprising conclusions about familiar figures, like J. Edgar Hoover, and unfamiliar episodes, like a German plot to disrupt American munitions manufacture, make Luff's story a fresh retelling of the interwar years.
The Middling Sorts by Burton J. Bledstein,Robert D. Johnston Summary
According to their national myth, all Americans are "middle class," but rarely has such a widely-used term been so poorly defined. These fascinating essays provide much-needed context to the subject of class in America.
Mean Streets by Andrew J. Diamond Summary
"In a city that social scientists feel we know well, Mean Streets provides new and exciting insights into the spatial dimensions of urban life. Not afraid to talk about both attraction and repulsion, Diamond provocatively unearths the critical role of youths—ages 15 to 25—in leading their wider communities in the negotiation of race."—George Sanchez, author of Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles 1900-1945 "In Mean Streets, Andrew Diamond brilliantly bridges social, political, and cultural history. His deeply researched account of Chicago's black, white, and Latino youth subcultures offers a fresh perspective on the entangled histories of identity, power, and place. This is a first-rate book."—Thomas J. Sugrue, author of Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North. "This excellent social history of Chicago's youth gangs not only demonstrates their centrality to the vaunted community and turf consciousness of the city's neighborhoods; it also explains the widespread ethnic and racial conflict that has characterized the city for most of the twentieth century. Diamond accomplishes this with a remarkable amount of empirical research on the gritty streets, playgrounds and parks, dance halls, 'can houses' (brothels), and industrial wastelands in, between, and around these neighborhoods."—James R. Barrett, author of Work and Community in 'The Jungle': Chicago's Packing House Workers, 1894-1922.
William Z. Foster and the Tragedy of American Radicalism by James R. Barrett Summary
In this trenchant work, James Barrett traces the political journey of a leading worker radical whose life and experiences encapsulate radicalism's rise and fall in the United States. A self-educated wage earner raised in the slums of a large industrial city, William Z. Foster became a brilliant union organizer who helped build the American Federation of Labor and, later, radical Trade Union Educational League. Embracing socialism, syndicalism, and communism in turn, Foster rose through the ranks of the American Communist Party to stand at the forefront of labor politics throughout the 1920s. Yet by the time he died in 1961, in a Moscow hospital far from the meat-packing plants and steel mills where he had built his reputation, Foster's political marginalism stood as a symbol for the isolation of American labor radicalism in the postwar era. Integrating both the indigenous and the international factors that determined the fate of American communism, William Z. Foster and the Tragedy of American Radicalism provides a new understanding of the basis for radicalism among twentieth-century American workers.
Igloos in the Jungle by Brian Watson Summary
Go along with the Colonel on this nostalgic trip back to the 1950's and life growing up in the Midwest. Follow him on his solo trek across Europe and the year that made him a man in the Aviation Cadet Program. Next it's many a day in Vietnam over the course of the war and the hardships faced by the aviators and their families on a daily basis. Life in the "fast lane" or five years in the Pentagon gives the reader a close look at the many challenges faced by the Staff Officer in the "building". Finally, the harrowing experience of life in a high school classroom for 19 years caps off the interesting adventure. Lt. Col. Watson amassed almost 5,000 hours flight time with 1,300 of it being combat time in Vietnam. He was "in country" for over 500 days covering parts of 1965,1966,1968,1969,1970,1971,1972, and 1973.He was decorated 39 times including the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, 12 Air Medals, 2 Commendations Medals, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry just to mention a few. His travels took him north of the Arctic Circle to the southernmost tip of South America, all over Europe and the Far East with stops in 68 countries on 6 continents. Sit back, relax, and enjoy this most interesting story of an Air Force Officer and his travels in support of our national interests.
To Promote the General Welfare by Steven Conn Summary
Americans love to hate their government, and a long tradition of anti-government suspicion reaches back to debates among the founders of the nation. But the election of Barack Obama has created a backlash rivaled only by the anti-government hysteria that preceded the Civil War. Lost in all the Tea Party rage and rhetoric is this simple fact: the federal government plays a central role in making our society function, and it always has. Edited by Steven Conn and written by some of America's leading scholars, the essays in To Promote the General Welfare explore the many ways government programs have improved the quality of life in America. The essays cover everything from education, communication, and transportation to arts and culture, housing, finance, and public health. They explore how and why government programs originated, how they have worked and changed--and been challenged--since their inception, and why many of them are important to preserve. The book shows how the WPA provided vital, in some cases career-saving, assistance to artists and writers like Jackson Pollock, Dorothea Lange, Richard Wright, John Cheever, and scores of others; how millions of students from diverse backgrounds have benefited and continue to benefit from the G.I. Bill, Fulbright scholarships, and federally insured student loans; and how the federal government created an Interstate highway system unparalleled in the world, linking the entire nation. These are just a few examples of highly successful programs the book celebrates--and that anti-government critics typically ignore. For anyone wishing to explore the flip side of today's vehement attacks on American government, To Promote the General Welfare is the best place to start.
Welcome to the Jungle by Kobena Mercer Summary
Welcome to the Jungle brings a black British perspective to the critical reading of a wide range of cultural texts, events and experiences arising from volatile transformations in the politics of ethnicity, sexuality and "race" during the 1980s. The ten essays collected here examine new forms of cultural expression in black film, photography and visual art exerging with a new generation of black British artists, and interprets this prolific creativity within a sociological framework that reveals fresh perspectives on the bewildering complexity of identity and diversity in an era of postmodernity. Kobena Mercer documents a wealth of insights opened up by the overlapping of Asian, African and Caribbean cultures that constitute Black Britain as a unique domain of diaspora.