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The Battle For Homestead, 1880-1892: Politics, Culture, and Steel (Pittsburg Series in Social and Labor History) Paperback – June 23, 1992


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Product Details

  • Series: Pittsburg Series in Social and Labor History
  • Paperback: 584 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (June 23, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822954664
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822954668
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #847,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A solid and thorough history of the Homestead Strike of 1892, in which a powerful steelworkers' union was destroyed in a lockout and protracted struggle. By taking a broad view of the strike and incorporating discussion of earlier conflicts at Andrew Carnegie's Homestead Steel Works, as well as developments in relations between capital and labor generally, Krause (History/Univ. of British Columbia) is able to produce a multifaceted, comprehensive analysis. Technological advances in steelmaking--especially the Bessemer process, which eliminated the need for certain skills in ironworking--were, he explains, part of a program by industrialists to mechanize their plants as much as possible, reducing the role of human laborers. This mechanical frame of reference--plus the emergence of ``machine politics'' as practiced by mill owners in the second half of the 19th century--brought on a ferocious battle with organized labor as workers sought to retain a livelihood that would allow them a measure of economic security. In contrast to steelworkers in Pittsburgh, who were split into divisive factions, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers in the nearby town of Homestead won an important victory during a strike against the forced signing of a company contract in 1882. Ten years later, though, the unity of the town and its workers could not survive an occupation by National Guard troops, recruitment of scab labor, and charges of murder and treason against strike leaders, and the union was broken, effectively ending the power of organized labor in the US steel industry for nearly 40 years. The definitive work on Homestead and its significance for American labor, with lessons still valid a century later. (Illustrations--not seen.) (Those interested in reading further about Homestead should note that the publisher is bringing out simultaneously ``The River Ran Red,'' ed. by David P. Demarest and others: an excellent collection of eyewitness accounts, newspaper reproductions, contemporary photos, etc., woven together with commentary by several scholars. Hardcover: $39.00, 0-8229-3710-7; paper: $19.95, 0-8229-5478-8.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Fenwick on October 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am writing a book about the last two decades of the 19th century, centered on a journal kept by a Kansas Homesteader named Isaac. Isaac was active in the Farmers' Alliance and the People's Party, in which farmers and laborers came together politically. I have done research on the Homestead lockout for my book, but I found Krause's book particularly detailed and interesting to read. It is an event Americans should remember, and this is a good book to remind them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Scott Shine on December 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Author Paul Krause examines the famous late 19th century struggle that pit unions and their supporters against steel mill owners, including Andrew Carnegie, in Homestead, Pennsylvania. He attempts to place the conflict in the context of republican political theory; post-Civil War partisan politics, including nativism; and changing technology. While the author occasionally provides enough sound analysis to introduce readers to the causes and consequences of the unequal contest between labor and management, the book suffers from three major defects—a disjointed narrative, unnecessarily arcane and pretentious justifications for his pro-labor interpretation of events, and excessive repetition.

With respect to narrative disarray, one of the book’s many examples will suffice. In Chapter 12, Krause tells the story of the successful workers’ strike that took place at Homestead in 1882, before Andrew Carnegie owned the plant. The author appears to complete the story about half way through the chapter only to restart the narrative with a new set of anecdotes. The chapter’s second half merely identifies additional participants or provides more disconnected details about previously mentioned participants. This chapter has not been highlighted because it represents one of the worst examples, but because it represents one of the least mangled and most understandable sequences.

Equally damaging to the cause of readable and persuasive prose, the author tries to inflate basic human desires into heroic grandeur. He presents workers, for example, as champions of traditional republican theory.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must for anyone who wants an understanding of the relationship between management, labor and politics during "Gilded Age" America as well as a detailed history of the Homestead, PA steelworks from 1880 to 1892 and the unique management/labor and political relationship that evolved there. The well known lockout/strike of 1892 is covered in detail. The book describes the interaction of leading figures in both management, labor and government in this arena. Particularly interesting is the explanation of engineering and technological improvements of the time and the way these impacted (and continue to impact) the management/worker relationship of that time as well as ours. Also appreciated was the explanation of wage system in place then, without which it is difficult to understand labor grievances. When you read this book, you realize how much inferior other books on the same subject area are.
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