A History of America in Ten Strikes

An “entertaining, tough-minded, and strenuously argued” (The Nation) account of ten moments when workers fought to change the balance of power in America

 “A brilliantly recounted American history through the prism of major labor struggles, with critically important lessons for those who seek a better future for working people and the world.” —Noam Chomsky

A Kirkus Reviews best book of 2019, A History of America in Ten Strikes challenges all of our contemporary assumptions around labor, unions, and American workers. Labor historian Erik Loomis recounts ten critical workers’ strikes in American labor history in “chapters [that] are self-contained enough to be used on their own in union trainings or reading groups” (Labor Notes), and adds an appendix detailing the 150 most important strikes in American history. These labor uprisings do not just reflect the times in which they occurred, but speak directly to the present moment, where American workers are still fighting for basic rights like a livable minimum wage.

Of course, no two strikes are alike, and A History of America in Ten Strikes celebrates American strikes in all their diversity, from the Lowell Mill Girls strike in the 1830s to Justice for Janitors in 1990. As the New Republic wrote, “What Loomis’s book perhaps does best is remind us that the promise of the labor movement, despite its many failures and compromises, has always been to make everyday life more democratic.”

As a new generation of workers flexes their muscles with renewed strike campaigns on behalf of teachers, autoworkers, and nurses, we have much to learn from both the victories and defeats of the past. Erik Loomis lifts the curtain on these past struggles, giving us a fresh, powerful, and accessible perspective on American history from the boots up.

News and Reviews

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Erik Loomis

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