Dynamite | The Story of Class Violence in America | Louis Adamic (Author) | Jon Bekken (Foreword)
Publisher: AK Press
Released: December 18, 2008
The history of labor in the United States is a story of almost continuous violence. In Dynamite, Louis Adamic recounts one century of that history in vivid, carefully researched detail. Covering both well- and lesser-known events—from the riots of immigrant workers in the second quarter of the nineteenth century to the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)—he gives precise, and often brutal, meaning to the term "class war."
As its title suggests, Dynamite refuses to sugarcoat the explosive and bloody legacy of the US labor movement. While quite clear that the causes of class violence lay with both the nature of capitalism and the specific policies of US industrialists, Adamic offers no apologies for the violent tactics workers employed in response. When peaceful strikes failed to yield results, working men and women fought back by any means necessary. The violent methods they used were often the only way that social injustices—from "ordinary" exploitation to massacres and judicial murder—could become visible, let alone be addressed.
This AK Press edition of Adamic's revised 1934 version of Dynamite, includes a new foreword by professor and labor organizer Jon Bekken, who offers a critical overview of the work that underlines its contemporary relevance.
Louis Adamic emigrated from Slovenia when he was fifteen years old and quickly joined the American labor force. Interspersing stints of manual labor with writing for Slovenian and English-language newspapers, he went on to receive a Guggenheim fellowship and to author of eleven books. He is now recognized as a great figure in early twentieth-century American literature. He was found shot to death in a burning farmhouse in 1954.
Jon Bekken is co-author of The Industrial Workers of the World: Its First 100 Years (IWW 2006), and coeditor of Radical Economics and Labor: Essays Inspired by the IWW Centennial (Routledge, 2009). He is associate professor of communications at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, a former General Secretary-Treasurer of the Industrial Workers of the World, and a member of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Review editorial collective.
"A young immigrant with a vivid interest in labor—and the calluses to prove his knowledge was more than academic—Louis Adamic provided a unique, eyes-open-wide view of American labor history and indeed of American society. Dynamite was the first history of American labor ever written for a popular audience. While delineating the book's limitations, Jon Bekken's foreword also makes clear for today's readers its continuing significance."
—Jeremy Brecher, historian and author of Strike!
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