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Working-Class Americanism:
The Politics of Labor in a Textile City, 1914-1960
Gary Gerstle
With a new preface by the author

Paperback | 2002 | $37.50 / £26.95 | ISBN: 9780691089119
372 pp. | 6 x 9

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In this classic interpretation of the 1930s rise of industrial unionism, Gary Gerstle challenges the popular historical notion that American workers' embrace of "Americanism" and other patriotic sentiments in the post-World War I years indicated their fundamental political conservatism. He argues that Americanism was a complex, even contradictory, language of nationalism that lent itself to a wide variety of ideological constructions in the years between World War I and the onset of the Cold War. Using the rich and textured material left behind by New England's most powerful textile union--the Independent Textile Union of Woonsocket, Rhode Island--Gerstle uncovers for the first time a more varied and more radical working-class discourse.


"The transformation of ethnically insular workers into passionate American activists is an important story, which Gerstle recounts with unusual subtlety. . . . No one has explored the meaning of Americanism to workers with more intelligence and insight."--Alan Brinkley, New York Review of Books

"Scintillating. . . . [Gerstle] uses the method [of social history] with striking originality to tackle the thorny questions of Americanism."--Alan Dawley, The Nation

"[A] fascinating new book. . . . One of the great feats of this book is Gerstle's ability to show that intellectual history is not some ethereal, separable history of abstract 'ideas' but is rather a product of class relations born at the workplace."--Dana Frank, In These Times

"The most provocative account of working-class politics in the 1930s and 1940s."--John Bodnar, Journal of American History

"[A] pathbreaking, impeccably researched history. . . . The sheer scope of this study . . . is breathtaking."--Richard M. Vallely, International Labor and Working Class History

"A remarkably rich and thoroughly rewarding study of life, labor, and politics in a 20th century industrial community."--Stuart M. Blumin, Labor History

"Important. . . . To read Gerstle . . . is to think a little more freely of this country's possibilities. . . . [T]he sobriety and sheer depth of Gerstle's engagement with real Americans' struggles spells relief from tributes to 'forgotten warriors' that read like old placards in a May Day parade. Study 'the people' here first."--Jim Sleeper, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Table of Contents

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Gary Gerstle:

Subject Areas:

Hardcover published by Cambridge University Press in 1989

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    File created: 3/10/2015

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