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The Seattle general strike by Robert L.…

The Seattle general strike

by Robert L. Friedheim

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Friedheim's 1964 volume on the Seattle General Strike is the only book-length treatment of Seattle's 1919 labor unrest. It was the only general strike in the United States up until that time. As with all such unique occurrences it is was and remains largely misunderstood. Friedheim set out to clear up some of those misunderstandings.

First, Friedheim does not glorify the old radicals. This is a scholarly approach to the event. He is careful not to generalize about the workers who participated in the strike-not the rank and file or their leaders. He makes it clear that the AFof L craft unions fell into three categories-radicals, progressives and conservatives, and each was only willing to go so far.

Friedheim also provides some great context for understanding the strike. He explains Seattle's unique labor picture, both the craft unions and the IWW, and their difference from the national AF of L organization. He paints the historical situation that plunged the city first into the shipyard strike that began on January 22nd and the general strike that followed two weeks later. He follows with the narrative of the strike itself, focusing mostly on efforts by the strikers to continue a feeling of normalcy, while those in power became increasingly fearful and the forces of reaction gathered their response.

If you have any interest in this topic, this is the book you must read. Sadly, it's been out of print for ages and ages. ( )
1 vote ksmyth | Feb 5, 2009 |
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