Only One Thing Can Save Us

Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement

From the author of the labor classic Which Side Are You On?, a galvanizing argument for revitalizing American unions and saving the middle class

“Tom Geoghegan’s got it right, and let’s hope the word goes viral. We need a labor movement that will restore civil sanity to a slowly sinking democratic spirit and reality.” —Deborah Meier

Is labor’s day over or is labor the only real answer for our time? National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan argues that even as organized labor seems to be crumbling, a revived—but different—labor movement is the only way to stabilize the economy and save the middle class.

The inequality now reshaping the country goes beyond money and income: the places where we work have become ever more rigid hierarchies. A “perceptive, informed, and witty utopian thinker” (Michael Kazin, Bookforum), Geoghegan makes his argument for labor with stories, sometimes humorous but more often chilling, about the problems working people like his own clients—from cabdrivers to schoolteachers—face, increasingly powerless in our union-free economy. He explains why a new kind of labor movement (and not just more higher education) is the real program the Democrats should push.

Written “in the disarming style of a self-deprecating lawyer in a beleaguered field” (Kim Phillips-Fein, The Atlantic), Only One Thing Can Save Us is vintage Geoghegan, bearing unparalleled insights into the real dynamics—and human experience—of working in America today.


“From his first, magnificent book straight through to this one, Tom Geoghegan has written about the labor movement in America with truly unmatched eloquence, self-reflection, and even wit (not easy, that last one). All that and—he is right. I hope the right people listen.”
—Michael Tomasky
“Tom Geoghegan has now spent four decades in one of America’s most unusual dual careers. On the one hand, he is a labor lawyer (on the side of the good guys), fighting to protect workers’ rights in a severely antiunion era. On the other hand, he is a skilled essayist and memoirist, who has chronicled the lives of baby-boomers with elegance and wistful humor. In Only One Thing Can Save Us, he argues for a ‘new kind of labor movement.’ But ‘argues’ is really the wrong word, as he makes his case in his usual manner and distinctive voice.”
—Michael Kinsley
“Contributes passion and knowledge to the work of rebuilding the backbone of American democracy—thriving workers. ”
Minnesota Educator
—David Bensman, The American Prospect
“Tom Geoghegan’s got it right, and let’s hope the word goes viral. We need a labor movement that will restore civil sanity to a slowly sinking democratic spirit and reality.”
—Deborah Meier
“History shows that the ideas that grow into legislation need an expansive advocacy to fertilize their bloom—which is why Geoghegan’s book is so useful.”
—Nelson Lichtenstein, The New York Times Book Review
“A valuable contribution to current debates about the future of the labor movement. The U.S. labor movement can often be an intellectually bereft place, and Geoghegan deserves a lot of credit for the contributions he’s made to combatting its debilitating stolidity.”

News and Reviews


Read an excerpt from Only One Thing Can Save Us in


Books by Thomas Geoghegan

Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?
How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life

Thomas Geoghegan

See You in Court
How the Right Made America a Lawsuit Nation

Thomas Geoghegan

In America’s Court
How a Civil Lawyer Who Likes to Settle Stumbled into a Criminal Trial

Thomas Geoghegan

Which Side Are You On?
Trying to Be for Labor When It’s Flat on Its Back

Thomas Geoghegan

Goodreads Reviews