THE BLOG
09/03/2007 12:50 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Discovering Labor's Untold Story: A Labor Day Reading List

Last night, I officially turned in 70 percent of my next book. Its working title is The Uprising and it is scheduled to be released in the Spring of 2008. I won't say much more about it now, other than to say it is very different from Hostile Takeover, and very different from the political books out now or coming out in the next many months. It is all original, firsthand reporting from some of the most interesting and sometimes frightening corners of America. The only thing it really has in common with Hostile Takeover is that the scope is bipartisan, and most of the focus is - again, unlike most political books - not on the Washington inside game nor on the elite cocktail party circuit of donors, pundits and self-important political "experts."

I have about 7 more weeks to finish the book. In that time, I'm also launching my nationally syndicated, weekly newspaper column through Creators Syndicate. So it is going to be a very, very busy time for me. I sort of feel like Uncle Frank in One Crazy Summer. Though I'm not waiting to win a radio call-in show contest like Uncle Frank, I have spent my entire summer inside obsessing. My office bears a strange resemblance to Uncle Frank's room, sans cigarette smoke.

I'll do my best to keep my postings up to standard, of course - including regular updates on the fight to end the Iraq War, the fight to stop the war on the middle class, the shifting dynamics of Land Politics, and the fight to halt the bipartisan push for more job-killing, environment-destroying, lobbyist-written trade deals (I've got an update coming on this latter one tomorrow).

In the meantime, on this Labor Day, let me suggest some books that I think are must-reads for anyone wishing to understand unions and the labor movement:

- Labor's Untold Story: Put out by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, this is like a bible of the labor movement. It's been around for years, and remains one of the most important works out there. You'll read this book and realize what a sham your high school history books really are - because as the title says, this story truly is untold.


- Which Side Are You On?: One of the best books I've ever read, both for the sheer talent of its author and for the journey it takes the reader on. Author Thomas Geoghegan (who I sincerely believe is one of the top 5 writers in America today) draws on his experience as a labor lawyer to show us through his experiences exactly what challenges face the labor movement in the modern era. Geoghegan's The Secret Lives of Citizens is an unofficial sequel to this book - and it is just as good.


- A People's History of the United States: I almost didn't include this Howard Zinn masterpiece in this list, just because it is so well known that I initially felt that I didn't even have to mention it because everyone knows it.


- The Selling of Free Trade: John R. MacArthur's book is a page-turning look at how labor's agenda is regularly run over and crushed by both parties in Washington. For those who think people like Bill Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Bill Richardson and the Clintonite machine was/is friends to American workers, reading this book might make you realize how wrong that conclusion really is. Slightly more outdated - but equally compelling - is Bill Greider's Who Will Tell the People?


- John L. Lewis - A Biography: Lewis was probably the most important labor leader in the last 100 years, building up the United Mine Workers into a powerhouse during the 20th century. I have only just started this book, but I have read enough to know it gives you a good sense of why organized labor has been so important to all the things we take for granted now (say, for instance, the weekend) - and why it is no coincidence that the right-wing war on the middle class has accelerated at the very same time organized labor has declined in membership.

In an era where the Beltway media either ignores organized labor entirely, or paints unions as just another set of chess players in the Washington game, these books show readers why the labor movement is so much more - and so integral to this country's future.

Cross-posted from Working Assets