Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States--- Sharon Smith belongs to the International Socialist Organization (Trotskyist). But whether or not you subscribe to her ideology or not, this is an inspiring, exciting overview of the history of the labor movement in the United States. While I was a little disapointed in the absence of a personal hero of mine--Emma Goldman--in the book, don't let that hold you bac from getting this. Good read.
People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.)---"According to this classic of revisionist American history, narratives of national unity and progress are a smoke screen disguising the ceaseless conflict between elites and the masses whom they oppress and exploit. Historian Zinn sides with the latter group in chronicling Indians' struggle against Europeans, blacks' struggle against racism, women's struggle against patriarchy, and workers' struggle against capitalists. First published in 1980, the volume sums up decades of post-war scholarship into a definitive statement of leftist, multicultural, anti-imperialist historiography. This edition updates that project with new chapters on the Clinton and Bush presidencies, which deplore Clinton's pro-business agenda, celebrate the 1999 Seattle anti-globalization protests and apologize for previous editions' slighting of the struggles of Latinos and gays. Zinn's work is an vital corrective to triumphalist accounts, but his uncompromising radicalism shades, at times, into cynicism. Zinn views the Bill of Rights, universal suffrage, affirmative action and collective bargaining not as fundamental (albeit imperfect) extensions of freedom, but as tactical concessions by monied elites to defuse and contain more revolutionary impulses; voting, in fact, is but the most insidious of the "controls." It's too bad that Zinn dismisses two centuries of talk about "patriotism, democracy, national interest" as mere "slogans" and "pretense," because the history he recounts is in large part the effort of downtrodden people to claim these ideals for their own."
Wobblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World--"Imagine being a workers' rights activist at the time of the Industrial Revolution. As shown in Wobblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World, you had to have resolve as steely as anything produced on the factory floor. It's slightly ironic, then, to have these heroic, life-and-death tales of class warfare captured in the ephemeral medium of a comic book. Created as a collaboration between historians and graphic novelists, it is an engaging, informative, and sometimes uneven look at a time of violent social upheaval. The editors of this collection assume that their readers are at least somewhat familiar with the history of the Wobblies--this is not a children's primer. Many entries are similar, filled with pedantic text, but two in particular are superb, harnessing the potential power of the graphic novel form to great emotional effect. "Strike! (Lawrence 1912)," by Seth Tobocman, tells of ruling-class cruelty against striking workers with a ghostly grace born from its wood-cut graphical style. Nicole Schulman's "Mourn Not the Dead" strikes the right balance between storytelling and artistry, bringing the terrible reality of the Cook County Prison--where Wobblies died from mistreatment behind bars--to unforgettable reality. These entries alone fulfill the promise of a book that seeks to make the often overlooked history of the Wobblies relevant again."
The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret Wars Against Dissent in the United States (South End Press Classics Series)---"Readers anxious about civil liberties under George W. Bush will find fodder for fears-and suggestions for activism-in The COINTELPRO Papers. Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall's expose of America's political police force, the FBI, reveals the steel fist undergirding "compassionate conservatism's" velvet glove. Using original FBI memos, the authors provide extensive analysis of the agency's treatment of the left, from the Communist Party in the 1950s to the Central America solidarity movement in the 1980s. The authors' new introduction posits likely trajectories for domestic repression."
Homage to Catalonia (Harvest Book)---"Most war correspondents observe wars and then tell stories about the battles, the soldiers and the civilians. George Orwell--novelist, journalist, sometime socialist--actually traded his press pass for a uniform and fought against Franco's Fascists in the Spanish Civil War during 1936 and 1937. He put his politics and his formidable conscience to the toughest tests during those days in the trenches in the Catalan section of Spain. Then, after nearly getting killed, he went back to England and wrote a gripping account of his experiences, as well as a complex analysis of the political machinations that led to the defeat of the socialist Republicans and the victory of the Fascists."
The Zapatista Reader---"Collecting essays, interviews, articles and letters that center on a Latin American guerilla revolution and its hero, Subcomandante Marcos, this anthology is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the movement born in 1983 as the National Zapatista Liberation Army. As Hayden, a California state senator and the author of Irish on the Inside, writes in his introduction, largely because of Marcos, there is "a diary, a poetry, an intellectual account" of the struggles of southern Mexico's indigenous communities to preserve their lands and their rights. Hayden's thoughtful volume is divided into three sections: eyewitness accounts of the movement's most spectacular display (on Jan. 1, 1994, 3,000 Zapatistas took control of six large towns and hundreds of smaller ranches in response to the implementation of NAFTA); the poetic writings of Marcos; and a series of essays by political and intellectual leaders reflecting on the Zapatistas. Since the 1994 uprising, skirmishes between the Mexican government and the Zapatistas have continued lives are lost and lands are stolen, returned and stolen again but the U.S. media reports little of these affairs. This neglect has encouraged Latin American and European journalists and writers to step forward, their imaginations caught up with what many consider to be one of the last revolutions of and for the people. Jos‚ Saramago, Gabriel Garcˇa M rquez, Octavio Paz and Eduardo Galeano all weigh in on the insurgency and its mysterious and charismatic leader; it is these essays, along with Marcos's letters and speeches, that make this collection a worthy addition to the canon of Latin and South American literature as well as a valuable historical text."