Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist (Working Class in American History) 2nd Edition

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0252074523
ISBN-10: 0252074521
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is biography at its best."
--Eric Foner for the History Book Club


"In this stunning book, Salvatore sets Debs firmly within the central traditions of United States political and social history and depicts, as never before, the triumph and tragedy that characterized the socialist leader's personal and public life."
--American Historical Review



"Nick Salvatore's biography is very solid work. . . . The Debs who emerges is a flawed human being--very flawed--yet an extraordinary person: a man deficient in self-knowledge, as public figures usually are, but also a great tribune."
--
New York Review of Books

About the Author

Nick Salvatore is Maurice and Hinda Neufeld Founders Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and a professor of American studies at Cornell University. He is the author of We All Got History: The Memory Books of Amos Webber and oher books. See www.nicksalvatore.com for more information.
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Product Details

  • Series: Working Class in American History
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 2nd edition (March 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252074521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252074523
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #790,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By america at work on April 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
"Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist" shows Eugene Deb's impact on American labor unions and the Socialist movement in America from the 1880s until his death in 1926, tracing his rise from a lowly locomotive paint-scraper to the five-time Socialist Party's presidential candidate. This "native son" combined his American values with socialism to battle against large corporations for "the working man." The author highlights the importance of Debs in American labor history, the complex life that Debs lived, and the journey that took him from democrat and trade unionist to socialist and industrial unionist.
The book is divided into four main sections. The first discusses early life in his home town of Terre Haute, a microcosm of working class towns throughout America. Here he became involved with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, and grew critical of industrial capitalism.
In the second section Debs took part in the Pullman strike and was sentenced to federal prison, where he spent much of his time reading, discussing, and learning about socialism. Upon his release from jail he helped found the forerunner to the Socialist Party of America.
In the third section Debs ran for president five times, the number of votes increasing with each campaign. The section also discusses Debs' greater acceptance of African Americans and women in his ideas for a socialist economy.
The final section sums up Debs' life. Sent to prison again, he ran for president for a fifth time from jail, winning 913,693 votes, the most ever for a Socialist Party candidate and the most votes of his career.
Debs was an impassioned human who fought for what he truly believed in. One issue was the book left me with some questions. What was the American consensus on Debs at this time?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By paul on June 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Debs, an American hero. Yet, his impact on American history is largely ignored in the mainstream. Salvatore presents the man as he was, ideas, actions, strengths and weaknesses. Any lover of American history and social justice will cherish this book.
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Format: Paperback
The author’s intention is to provide a better understanding of Eugene V. Deb’s personal and political life. Salvatore set out to change much of the perception of Debs by contemporary historians and his role in history. Salvatore makes the link between his early life in Terre Haute and how that shaped his outlook on Socialism. The author was successful in conveying a personal and political biography of Debs and also giving a glimpse into the idealism behind American Socialism and its roots in modern concepts of democracy. Salvatore gives a great analysis of Debs personal outlook on Socialism and how it differs from the modern concept of socialism theorized by Karl Marx.
This book gives a personal outlook about Debs and shines a spotlight on his humanitarianism. Salvatore highlights Debs’ great oratory skills and his approachability, Debs was able to organize people of all backgrounds, whether they were socialist or not. Salvatore writes this book from a historiographical point of view. He speaks to Debs positive qualities as well as his inconsistencies. Over all, this book is a chronological and analytical book because it follows Debs’ life from personal to political origins. Then it analyzes his effect and impact on democracy in his time. This book is an analysis of Debs’ understanding of republicanism from a Jeffersonian point of view. Salvatore notes that this encompassing concept of democracy was appealing to many people and still is today.
The thesis of this book is presenting Debs as a person who was shaped by the society around him. Debs’ was shaped by the rapid growth of industrial capitalism and thus was trying implement socialism to help combat the ills associated with capitalism. This book contributes to a new understanding of Debs as a labor organizer.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Maya Cook on April 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
Why is this book so widely lauded? Sure, in some places it's quite insightful, but in others it seems to revise for revision's sake. In checking Salvatore's primary sources, some turn out to be quite vague, revealing what seem to me to be somewhat dubious conjecture in order to turn this or that assumption (especially regarding his early years) on its head, in favor of a more hypocritical portrait of Debs. Admittedly, I'm only an undergrad historian, so perhaps I'm merely not far enough along in my studies to grasp the nuances, but I have found that in doing my own research, I cannot rely on Salvatore's interpretations of Debs any more than I can the overly adulatory biopics of his predecessors. A frustrating situation, but hopefully useful in my development as a historian.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Liznola on December 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
one of the best books ever written by a American historian about a true American patriot.
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