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All-American Anarchist: Joseph A. Labadie and the Labor Movement (Great Lakes Books Series) Hardcover – June 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


"All-American Anarchist" is an excellent piece of scholarship that will be must-reading for all American social and labor historians. But for us general readers, here is a moving biography of a man who fought mostly for lost causes, but who nonetheless "influenced the outcome of those causes that survived." A fitting epitaph for anybody, anytime. -- Joseph H. Dugas, The Grand Rapids Press, 9/20/98

An eminently readable biography...Anderson adeptly shows the diversity of thought in the decades following the Civil War...offers a poignant look at a man who believed "in the ability of the unique individual standing alone, self-led, self-governed, to make a difference." As in Herbert Gutman's pathbreaking study of Joseph McDonnell, Anderson also illustrates how communities transcend national sentiment when dealing with local sons with good hearts and pure motives. She also adds to the growing body of literature suggesting that Gilded Age and Progressive Era political labels be approached skeptically. In the whirl of activities, crises, and possibilities between 1877 and 1919, few achieved ideological purity. -- Robert E. Weir, Labor History, Vol. 40, No. 1, Spring, 1999

This well-written biography traces [Labadie's] career as a writer, anarchist, and trade unionist, conveying the failed aspirations of an American-born leftist. His story provides insights into the trials and tribulations of the working class and the early labor movement, especially the rise and fall of the Knights of Labor, the turmoil surrounding the Haymarket Square tragedy, and a growing distrust of labor radicalism...provides a much needed "from the bottom-up" perspective on American history. -- R.F. Zeidel, Choice, February 1999

[Labadie's] life was interesting and important, and Carlotta Anderson's account of it is well-researched and well-written. Although she never knew him-she was only two when he died-she successfully conveys the character of her eccentric ancestor and the atmosphere of the American left a century ago, and her book will stand as one of the best biographies not just of an American but of any anarchist. -- (Freedom (London), 2/6/99)

Book Description

All-American Anarchist chronicles the life and work of Joseph A. Labadie (1850-1933), Detroit's prominent labor organizer and one of early labor's most influential activists.

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Product Details

  • Series: Great Lakes Books Series
  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814327079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814327074
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,536,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Fritz R. Ward VINE VOICE on May 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Libertarians today are often considered extreme conservatives. Their opposition to taxation and government regulation is widely regarded as a defense of "big business" and the popular press, to the extent they mention libertarians at all, tends to see them as a branch of the Republican Party. But liberarianism is actually a radical philosophy with deep roots in the history of American reform movements, most notably abolitionism and especially the labor movement. Detroit labor organizer Joseph Labadie was a radical printer and tradesman who helped found both the Knights of Labor and the later AFL, particularly its Michigan wing. But Labadie also came to realize that the state was no friend of organized labor. Unlike modern labor historians who try to wrestle America's labor movement into a Marxist paradigm (Philip Foner and his intellectual heirs come to mind here) Labadie came to believe that true socialism would find its best expression in free markets and anarchism. This fabulous biography by Carlotta Anderson covers Labadie's extensive career.

Joseph Labadie was a self educated printer who lived in Michigan and migrated to Detroit. The boom and bust cycle of the early 19th century caused tremendous economic hardship upon workers and Labadie quickly fell in with trade unionists and members of America's very diverse socialist party. He was a founding member of the Knights of Labor and remained throughout his life an advocate for the working poor. But Labadie also felt education was the key to any successful social reform and he practiced what he preached. A careful reader, he soon had mastered the works of Adam Smith, Herbert Spencer, Thoreau, and especially the writings of Josiah Warren and Pierre Joseph Proudhon.
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