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Back of the Yards: The Making of a Local Democracy Hardcover – June, 1986

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Until now, the historic Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago has been neglected by social historians. The packinghouse district, made famous by Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906), provides a case study in the evolution of an immigrant community over two generations. Originally fragmented by religion and ethnicity, people gradually were drawn together into ever-larger interest groups. Slayton's book, based partly on interviews, presents a colorful and moving picture of this diverse area, its people, their homes, and their jobs. The author's sensitivity to the community's character sometimes leads him dangerously close to veneration and a facile interpretation of democratic progress. Nevertheless, this is recommended for those interested in the emergence of cities. Charles K. Piehl, Director of Grants Management, Mankato State Univ., Minn.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Robert A. Slayton is Associate Professor of history at Chapman University. A New Yorker by birth, he is the author of "Back of the Yards: The Making of a Local Democracy" and "New Homeless and Old: Community and the Skid Row Hotel." He lives in Orange County, California. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1St Edition edition (June 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226761983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226761985
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,198,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By William J. Martin on May 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. It takes place near the Chicago stockyards and provides ample evidence on how this partcular neighborhood developed over the years mainly via immigration. Much of the history takes place during the 19th century when there was no regulations regarding child labor etc. The work in the slaughterhouses was long, hard and dangerous with management paying little heed for these peoples welfare. Over the years, it all began to change when the worker's started to get some rights of their own by either taking matters in their own hands ...........
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My mom grew up Back of the Yards (1920s-1940s) and is currently spellbound reading this book. She raves daily that is teaching her about her parents' lives as well as mentioning many people by name that she grew up with, particularly in relation to St. John of God Catholic parish. Apparently the author really researched details as well as bigger themes. My mom would rate this book 11 stars on a 10-star scale. Don't hesitate to buy if you or your older relatives are from that part of Chicago.
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I spent the summers of 1968 and 1969 working on the Southwest side of Chicago a communitry organizer. The hero and idal for most community organizers especially in Chicago is Saul Alinsky. In the 1930's Saul Alinsky worked together with the priests and Protesant clergy of the Back-of-the-Yards community in Chicago to form a powerful political organization called the Back of the Yards Council. This book is the history of the Back of the Yards neighborhood from the very beginning of settlement in the area and also contains the story of Saul Alinsky and the formation of the Back of the Yards Council. Needless to say this part was the most interesting part of the book for me because it brought back memories of my work in Chicago, during my college days.
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