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Informative, but biased
on September 18, 2011
Professor Green's prose is clean and lacks the usual academic verbosity that one often finds in history books.Green goes into good length about the background leading to the tragedy in the Haymarket. The incident itself takes up only a page or two. The struggle between the IWPA and the Knights of labor vs Jay Gould, McCormick, and other industrialists is discussed at length.
What was obvious in reading this book was Dr. Green's sympathy for the anarchists and socialists throughout this struggle. The industrialists, while not quite demonized, are not given the same empathic portrayal that he gives August Spies, Albert and Lucy Parsons, and the rest of the embryonic labor movement.
For example, he cites an article from a labor magazine as evidence that the police "caused" the bombing by aggressively breaking up the meeting.Apparently, Professor Green could not find a more independent source than a magazine that would clearly side with the IWPA. The quote also raises the question of whether throwing a bomb was a gross overreaction to what the police's attempts at breaking up the meeting. Inspector Bondfield had lead brutal beatdowns in the past, which one could possibly use as a cause for the bombmaking. But then one has to ask what was someone was doing there with a bomb in the first place? It seems odd for people to lug around bombs if they were not prepared to use it. And, as Dr. Green notes, Bonfield reacted so because HE was violently assaulted in an earlier protest. The truth is never as simple as partisans wish it to be.
Death in the Haymarket is a solid book and one that I would recommend because it is well written and covers an important topic in our nation's history. The one caveat is the author's obvious bias in favor of the anarchists.