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Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 Paperback – January 7, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0521715355 ISBN-10: 0521715350 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (January 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521715350
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521715355
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Most chapters in this ambitious study of Chicago's ethnic workers between the wars could themselves be the basis for a book: workers' encounter with mass culture; their response to 1920s welfare capitalism; the Depression's effects; the turn toward Democratic politics; and the embrace of organized labor. Cohen has used a vast range of sources to show that these episodes are interrelated and to make the overall point that far from bobbing upon history's tides, workers were agents of their own fortune during a period opening with labor in disarray and ending in strength. If on some points her arguments are strained, the richness of Cohen's book makes it an essential purchase for research libraries, and a useful item in many other academic collections.
- Robert F. Nardini, N. Chichester, N.H.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"This is an impressive and hefty piece of work." Times Higher Education Supplement

"It is at moments like this that new perspectives on the past, like Lizabeth Cohen's in Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939, are particularly welcome...She reaches beyond narrow specialties historians still indulge in...to draw on the insights and methodologies of community studies, ethnic histories, gender studies, political history (new and old), cultural criticism and social history." David Nasaw, The Nation

"This is a terrific book. Cohen skillfully uses a mass of sources to paint a richly detailed portrait of working-class life in the 1920s and 1930s. We see working people as central actors in a vast twentieth-century historical drama that had been previously told as the story of either elites (corporate heads, government bureaucrats, etc.) or of impersonal social forces (bureaucratization, nationalization, etc). And we see how workers who are in the forefront in their relations to the new mass culture, in their relations with workers from other ethnic and racial groups, also turn out to be in the vanguard in the creation of the new industrial unionism of the 1930s." Roy Rosenzweig, George Mason University

"Cohen has dared to take for her subject the working class of a whole metropolitan area (Chicago)--an ambition that immediately sets this work apart from virtually every other interwar labor history written these last twenty years (which have focused either on particular industries or smaller industrial cities). She has researched prodigiously...and used the extraordinarily rich archives of interwar Chicago sociologists to shower the reader with wonderful insights into local, working-class life. And, she has woven aspects of ethnic and mass cultural history into her story of working-class formation in a manner that I have not seen done before. For all these reasons she may have the makings of a landmark book." Gary Gerstle, Princeton University

"About welfare capitalism Lizabeth Cohen remarks that understanding it `requires reconstructing as well as possible how people encountered the ideology in concrete ways everyday at the plant.' To a remarkable degree, Cohen accomplishes this daunting task, and not only for welfare capitalism, but for all those other questions social historians have asked about America's immigrant working classes: how did they respond to the nationalizing consumer culture of the 1920s? What impact did the Great Depression have on their communities? Why did they attach themselves to the New Deal? How did industrial unionism become the vehicle for their empowerment? ...Cohen brings to bear an enormous body of new evidence, and for all of them she offers arresting and well-founded fresh insight. Her book will be widely read, and much pondered. It marks a giant advance in the social history of American workers, and is beyond question a great achievement." David Brody, University of California, Davis

"...the richness of Cohen's book makes it an esential purchase for research libraries, and a useful item in many other academic collections." Library Journal

"Combining a graceful synthesis of the familiar with the innovative, this landmark study will elevate the perceptions of social historians who read it, as they must." Choice

"This book will be of interest to a wider audience than just labor historians. Students of ethnicity, mass culture, the urban experience, and American politics will find something stimulating here. Lizabeth Cohen has woven an impressive variety of primary sources together with the existing rich scholarship on Chicago to produce a significant contribution to our understanding of U.S. history between the wars." American Historical Review

"In scholarly but never dull prose, the author, a Carnegie Mellon University historian, examines this fascinating social phenomenon as reflected in Chicago's labor history." Chicago Sun-Times

"...a classic of social history. Working at the crossroads of historical materialism and American progressivism, it is a model of humane realism that neither celebrates assimilation nor harbors false illusions about radical alternatives to the New Deal....[Cohen] deserves our utmost thanks." Alan Dawley, International Labor and Working Class History --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By H.L. Mencken on January 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 by Lizabeth Cohen. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (England); New York, 1990. Pp. xviii + 526; illustrations. $47.95, cloth; $17.95, paper. Making a New Deal describes the evolution of Chicago's unskilled and semi-skilled labor force during the inter-war years from individuals bonded in groups only by a common ethnicity or race into a cohesive, broad-based alliance responsible, along with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the federal government, for the success of the union movement during the darkest days of the nation's Great Depression. Cohen's concentration is focused on five of the city's industrial giants and the neighborhoods in which they were located, from which they garnered their workforce: the garment industry in the Old Immigrant Neighborhoods of the near west and southwest sides, International Harvester's McCormick Works and Western Electric's Hawthorne Works in the Southwest Corridor, Armour and Swift located in Packingtown, U.S. Steel and Wisconsin Steel of Southeast Chicago, and, with no industry of its own, the Black Belt. Cohen pursues an answer to the question: how it was possible for these industrial workers to become a cohesive force in national politics in the mid-1930's in light of their disunity entering the decade of the 1920's? During the Twenties, church and a myriad of other neighborhood institutions, mass marketing, government, union organizers, and employers all exerted forces on these laborers. Cohen concludes that the metamorphosis was caused by "the change in the workers' own orientation during the 1920s." It took nothing less than a shift in their very value systems, as old symbols of ethnic security began failing or vanished completely, e.g.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Jefferson on February 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
Cohen's work based on her Ph.D. Dissertation at UC-Berkeley proves to be a comprehensive, engaging, and insightful look into popular culture in 1920s and 1930s Chicago. She moves seamlessly from labor history to cultural history to ethnic history without losing the reader by including helpful charts, figures, and photographs. Her section on the nature of mass media and mass consumption undoubtedly provides evidence of her writing style in The American Pageant.
Cohen does not create a delineation between immigrants that came to the area and natives of the Chicago area, which goes a long way in terms of bias. She covers African-Americans, Polish, Italians, and Jews without being critical one way or the other. Each chapter seems to be able to live by itself, which gives the book a flavor of being a compendium of papers instead of a conjoined work. All in all, Cohen does a wonderful job examining Chicago and Chicagoans whatever their ethnicity may be.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Martin VINE VOICE on February 17, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Making a New Deal is an absolutely incredible look at workers during the Interwar period in Chicago. Cohen has crafted a monumental work that not only covers workers political and union organization but also covers the changes in their lives resulting from societal changes such as the advent of radio and the chain store.
What's particularly appealing and interesting about this book is also what it says about modern times. Cohen discusses that due to the advent of radio and national networks, fewer workers got their local and world news from ethnic newspapers or other papers in Chicago. As can be seen from this, the current lement concerning the consolidation of newspapers, TV and radio stations isn't new, it began even in the 1930s. Also interesting is how many immigrant parents worried about their children becoming influenced by American culture that they did not understand, particularly clubs, dance halls and radio music.
Cohen's work is profoundly important and most of the book is a great read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By H.L. Mencken on January 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Making a New Deal describes the evolution of Chicago's unskilled and semi-skilled labor force during the inter-war years from individuals bonded in groups only by a common ethnicity or race into a cohesive, broad-based alliance responsible, along with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the federal government, for the success of the union movement during the darkest days of the nation's Great Depression. Cohen's concentration is focused on five of the city's industrial giants and the neighborhoods in which they were located, from which they garnered their workforce: the garment industry in the Old Immigrant Neighborhoods of the near west and southwest sides, International Harvester's McCormick Works and Western Electric's Hawthorne Works in the Southwest Corridor, Armour and Swift located in Packingtown, U.S. Steel and Wisconsin Steel of Southeast Chicago, and, with no industry of its own, the Black Belt. Cohen pursues an answer to the question: how it was possible for these industrial workers to become a cohesive force in national politics in the mid-1930's in light of their disunity entering the decade of the 1920's? During the Twenties, church and a myriad of other neighborhood institutions, mass marketing, government, union organizers, and employers all exerted forces on these laborers. Cohen concludes that the metamorphosis was caused by "the change in the workers' own orientation during the 1920s." It took nothing less than a shift in their very value systems, as old symbols of ethnic security began failing or vanished completely, e.g., national churches, enthic-based savings and loan associations and insurance companies, local stores and, eventually, the welfare capitalism practiced by their employers.Read more ›
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